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Article   |    
Beyond Deinstitutionalization: A Commitment Law in Evolution
Mary L. Durham; Glenn L. Pierce
Psychiatric Services 1982; doi:
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American Lake VA Medical Center (11A2), Tacoma, Washington 98493

Center for Applied Social Research Northeastern University Boston, Massachusetts

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

In 1973 Washington State changed its civil commitment law to more rigorously control the number of involuntary commitments in a move consistent with the national trend toward deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill and the development of community treatment alternatives. In 1979, after six years of working within narrowly drawn criteria for commitment, the state strengthened its civil commitment authority through revisions that included expanding the definition of "gravely disabled," adding destruction of property to the "likelihood of serious barm" clause, making the provisions for revoking conditional releases more stringent, and allowing spouses of mentally ill individuals to testify against them during commitment proceedings. Early figures show that involuntary commitments have increased substantially; however, Washington faces the problem of dealing with the greater demand placed on state facilities by increased commitments, while trying to cope with federal cutbacks and diminishing resources.

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