Civil committment

Based on our findings it is recommended that Mr. Q be sent to a mental institution for civil commitment.  The purpose of this civil commitment is to ensure that Mr. Q receives the proper treatment for his mental state.  It must be remembered that civil commitment is in which a judge decides whether a person who is alleged to be mentally ill should be required to go to a psychiatric hospital or accept other mental health treatment. A person in the process of a commitment sometimes is called an Alleged Mentally Ill Person (AMIP). A civil commitment is not a criminal conviction and will not go on a criminal record (Perlin 1994).

Civil commitment has even been declared as the proper proceeding especially when the competency of an accused/defendant can no longer be restored.  The United States Supreme Court in the case of JACKSON v. INDIANA, 406 U.S. 715 (1972) has consistently held that where “the courts believe that the defendant’s competence can never be restored, either civil commitment proceedings are initiated against the defendant or the defendant is released.”

In this scenario, the case of Mr. John Q certainly warrants the necessity of his involuntary commitment or civil commitment due to the following factors.  The first factor is the fact that since the incarceration of Mr. John Q he has been a mental health patient in the State Prison System and has been diagnosed by the chief psychologist as “Schizophrenia – Paranoid Type.”  This finding therefore supports the conclusion that Mr. John Q does not possess the mental faculties that are required to make him competent under the law.  It may even lead to a finding that Mr. John Q was not sane or did not possess Mens Rea during the commission of the offense that he was charged for.

These findings are further supported by the statistics that have been indicated in his ten (10) year prison record which is reproduced to wit:

Type and Number of Offenses

– Physically Assaulting Security Staff: 25

– Possession of Weapons: 10

– Physically Assaulting Other Inmates: 10

– Obscene Language Toward Staff: 10

– Disobeying a Direct Order: 25

This very high number of offenses in such a short period of time indicates that Mr. John Q is not mentally fit or capacitated and must be made to serve civil commitment.  While release is another legal option, it is highly recommended that an individual as mentally imbalanced with potentially criminal behavior be committed to a state mental health institution instead.  The findings that Q was reportedly medication-compliant and psychiatrically stable must be considered as well.

It must be remembered also that there are certain factors that might indicate that Mr. John Q must not be civilly committed such as the erratic and inconsistent behavior that has been noticed as noted in his ten year record.  During certain periods, Mr. John Q has been observed to be psychotic and unmanageable.  During these periods inmate Q has been verbally and physically assaultive toward prison staff and other inmates.

The final decision on the civil commitment of Mr. John Q, however, belongs to the state as the state has the right to determine whether or not an individual should be civilly committed subject to the rules on due process as enunciated in the case of O’Connor v. Donaldson (1975) where the United States Supreme Court ruled that involuntarily committing an individual to a mental institution is an act of deprivation of liberty and the state should not do this without following the due process of law.


Perlin, M.L. (1993/1994). The ADA and Persons with Mental Disabilities: Can Sanist Attitudes Be Undone? Journal of Law and Health,, 8 JLHEALTH 15, 33-34.