BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                         Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair
                              2013-2014 Regular Session


          AB 1847 (Chesbro)
          As Amended June 4, 2014
          Hearing Date: June 17, 2014
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          TMW


                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                         Mental Health Disorders:  Language

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would update numerous California Codes by removing  
          references to insane or mentally disordered or defective persons  
          and replacing those references with mental health disorder,  
          intellectual disability, or developmental disability.

                                     BACKGROUND  

          Over the past several years, the Legislature has updated  
          California's Codes by removing offensive or stigmatizing  
          language referring to mental health disorders.  AB 1640 (La  
          Malfa, Ch. 31, Stats. 2007) changed references to "idiot,"  
          "imbecility," and "lunatics" in various code sections to refer  
          instead to persons who are mentally incapacitated.  AB 2370  
          (Mansoor, Ch. 448, Stats. 2012) and SB 1381 (Pavley, Ch. 457,  
          Stats. 2012) removed all references to "mental retardation" or  
          "mentally retarded person" and replaced them with "intellectual  
          disability" or "a person with an intellectual disability."

          This bill would similarly remove references to "insane,"  
          "mentally disordered," and "mentally defective" persons and  
          replace those terms with "mental health disorder," "intellectual  
          disability," "developmental disability," or "persons who lack  
          legal capacity to make decisions," and make additional minor  
          technical revisions to those code sections.  This bill would  
          also repeal the ability of the state to establish custody and  
          restraint of mentally ill persons, paupers, and minors and  
          remove outdated requirements for a state hospital to compile a  
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          roster of gravely disabled mentally ill patients and provide  
          those patients' names and records to conservatorship  
          investigation officers.

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
          1.  Existing law  refers to mentally disordered, mentally  
            defective persons, and insane persons throughout 14 different  
            California codes.

             This bill  would remove those references and replace them with  
            references to persons with a mental health disorder or persons  
            who lack legal capacity to make decisions.

             This bill  would also make technical revisions to those code  
            sections.

          2.  Existing law  authorizes the state to establish custody and  
            restraint of:
                 mentally ill persons, insane persons, chronic  
               inebriates, and other persons of unsound mind;
                 paupers for the purposes of their maintenance; and
                 minors for the purposes of their education, reformation,  
               and maintenance.  (Gov. Code Sec. 203.)

             This bill  would repeal that provision.
           
           3.  Existing law  requires, on or before June 30, 1970, the  
            medical director of each state hospital for the mentally  
            disordered to compile a roster of those mentally disordered or  
            chronic alcoholic patients within the institution who are  
            gravely disabled.  That roster must indicate the county from  
            which each such patient was admitted to the hospital or, if  
            the hospital records indicate that the county of residence of  
            the patient is a different county, the county of residence.   
            (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec. 5366.)

             Existing law  requires the officer providing conservatorship  
            investigation for each county to be given a copy of the names  
            and pertinent records of the patients from that county and to  
            investigate the need for conservatorship for those patients,  
            and each state hospital and State Department of State  
            Hospitals is required to make their records concerning those  
            patients available to the officer.  After his or her  
            investigation and on or before July 1, 1972, the county  
            officer providing conservatorship investigation is required to  
                                                                      



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            file a petition of conservatorship for those patients that he  
            or she determines may need conservatorship.  (Welf. & Inst.  
            Code Sec. 5366.)

             Existing law  provides that court commitments under the  
            provisions of law in effect prior to July 1, 1969, of those  
            patients for whom a petition of conservatorship is not filed  
            shall terminate and the patient shall be released unless he or  
            she agrees to accept treatment on a voluntary basis.  (Welf. &  
            Inst. Code Sec. 5366.)

             This bill  would repeal those provisions.

                                        COMMENT
           
          1.  Stated need for the bill  
          
          The author writes:
          
            Some terminology still used today in California Law reflects  
            false beliefs about people with mental health life  
            experiences.  These include:  crazy, lunatic, insane,  
            feeble-minded, mentally defective, and abnormal.

            This kind of terminology increases stigma by making  
            assumptions about the characteristics of people with  
            psychiatric disabilities.  Some devalue them, distinguish them  
            as outsiders, perceive them as weak, or speak in terms that  
            focus on the person's disability, instead of the person. It  
            can also promote discrimination by promoting action based on  
            these preconceived notions.  Statutes often reflect the times  
            in which they were created.  As such, they do not always keep  
            up with anti-discrimination laws, new models of community  
            support services, and the terms that are used to describe  
            people with disabilities.  It is important that the California  
            Code utilizes language that is respectful of persons with  
            disabilities.  
             
            AB 1847 would replace offensive and outdated terms concerning  
            people with mental health disabilities in California statutes.  
             California statutes should remove and replace stigmatizing  
            terms with contemporary terms that promote respect and dignity  
            of Californians with mental health disabilities.  

          2.  Updating code references regarding mental health disorders,  
            intellectual disabilities, and developmental disabilities  
                                                                      



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          This bill would remove references to "insane," "mentally  
          disordered," and "mentally defective" persons and, instead,  
          refer to persons with a mental health disorder, intellectual  
          disability, developmental disability, or persons who lack legal  
          capacity to make decisions.  As noted by Disability Rights  
          California, sponsor, terms like "lunatic, insane, feeble-minded,  
          mentally defective, and abnormal [increase] stigma by making  
          assumptions about the characteristics of people with psychiatric  
          disabilities.  Some devalue them, distinguish them as outsiders,  
          perceive them as weak, or speak in terms that focus on the  
          person's disability, instead of the person.  It can also promote  
          discrimination by promoting action based on these preconceived  
          notions."

          The revisions made by this bill update California Codes to  
          properly reflect current terminology for individuals with mental  
          health issues.  These changes continue the Legislature's efforts  
          to protect these individuals from discrimination and  
          stigmatization.
          
          3.  Repealing unused and outdated code sections  

          This bill would repeal the ability of the state to establish  
          custody and restraint of mentally ill and insane persons,  
          chronic inebriates, and other persons of unsound mind, paupers  
          (for the purposes of their maintenance), and minors (for the  
          purposes of their education, reformation, and maintenance).   
          Disability Rights California, sponsor, argues that this section  
          should be repealed because it is no longer used and is outdated.  
           Indeed, that section, enacted by SB 958 (Fletcher and Burns,  
          Ch. 134, Stats. 1943), refers to the rights of the state over  
          the persons in California.  Since 1943, California law has  
          developed to instead require voluntary surrender for treatment,  
          a judicial conservatorship establishing the incapacity of the  
          adult, or an application for treatment by the parent or guardian  
          of a minor.  These changes in state law reflect the due process  
          rights of all California citizens, including those who were  
          previously treated as not having these rights because of a  
          mental illness, deficiency, or incapacity.  California's  
          criminal laws also authorize the state to establish custody and  
          restraint of persons intoxicated in violation of the law or  
          suspected to be a danger to themselves or others.  Accordingly,  
          the repeal of the state's right to establish custody and  
          restraint of mentally ill, insane, inebriated, poor, and young  
          people would better reflect the state's protection of the rights  
                                                                      



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          of these California citizens.

          This bill would also repeal outdated requirements for a state  
          hospital to compile a roster of gravely disabled mentally ill  
          patients and give patient names and records to a conservatorship  
          investigation officer.  Additionally, this bill would remove the  
          reference for a patient to be released from involuntary  
          commitment.  Since these provisions were all required to be  
          completed prior to 1972, these provisions are outdated and  
          therefore unnecessary.

          4.   "All-purpose" yielding clause avoids double jointing  
          problems
           
          Proposed Section 135 on page 116 of this bill provides that any  
          other bill enacted by the Legislature during the 2014 calendar  
          year that takes effect on or before January 1, 2015, and that  
          amends, amends and renumbers, adds, repeals and adds, or repeals  
          a section that is amended, amended and renumbered, added,  
          repealed and added, or repealed by this act, shall prevail over  
          the provisions of this bill.  This "all-purpose" yielding clause  
          avoids any double jointing problems that might otherwise occur.


           Support  :  California Council of Community Mental Health  
          Agencies; California Psychological Association; National  
          Alliance on Mental Illness; National Association of Social  
          Workers - California Chapter

           Opposition  :  None Known

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  Disability Rights California

           Related Pending Legislation  :  None Known

           Prior Legislation  :

          SB 1381 (Pavley, Ch. 457, Stats. 2012) See Background.

          AB 2370 (Mansoor, Ch. 448, Stats. 2012) See Background.

          AB 1640 (La Malfa, Ch. 31, Stats. 2007) See Background.

          SB 958 (Fletcher and Burns, Ch. 134, Stats. 1943) See Comment 2.
                                                                      



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           Prior Vote  :

          Assembly Floor (Ayes 76, Noes 0)
          Assembly Committee on Judiciary (Ayes 10, Noes 0)

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