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To the editor:

It has long been my belief that everyone deserves access to mental health care that meets their needs. No one in our community should be forced to languish, deteriorate and die plagued and disabled by mental or behavioral health challenges.

But, of the mental health care approaches currently being modeled, the CARE Court program signed into law by our governor is problematic at best and a plain violation of civil liberties at worst.

This misguided forced-treatment plan would create a system of civil courts in every county in the state. A wide range of individuals, including family members, health care providers, county workers and law enforcement officers, could refer people with serious mental health conditions to the courts. A ruling in favor of the person making the referral would subject anyone suffering from mental illness to court-ordered treatment, including forced medication and prolonged commitment.

California desperately needs more mental health care, but not an approach that harkens back to a dark era that witnessed the warehousing and isolation of the mentally challenged. I have always believed that we are better together when facing our individual or collective challenges.

A lesson seemingly lost on our governor.

Steve Pleich
Santa Cruz