Civil rights groups file a lawsuit to block Newsom's plan for treating people with mental illness

Civil rights groups file a lawsuit to block Newsom's plan for treating people with mental illness
At Long Beach City College, Gov. Gavin Newsom is surrounded by several California mayors after having a meeting with them to discuss affordable housing on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

A coalition of disability and civil rights advocates have filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme Court, seeking to halt the implementation of a new program called CARE Court (Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment). The program, which was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in March, aims to address severe mental illness by compelling treatment for thousands of Californians. Disability Rights California, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Public Interest Law Project argue that the new court system violates due process and equal protection rights under the state constitution, while also burdening fundamental rights to privacy, autonomy, and liberty.

Under CARE Court, family members, medical professionals, first responders, and behavioral health providers can petition a judge to order an evaluation of an adult with a diagnosed psychotic disorder. If a person qualifies, a CARE plan can include medication, treatment services, and housing if needed. The program is scheduled to be rolled out in two phases, with Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, Glenn, and Tuolumne Counties beginning implementation by October 1st, followed by Los Angeles County two months later. The rest of the state has until December 2024.

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