Thus Helen Bailey, an attorney with the government-funded Disability Rights Center in Augusta, Maine. But things didn’t work out so well in the case of violent schizophrenic William Bruce, who was released from Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta against the recommendations of his doctors but after urgings from patient advocates. Two months later he murdered his mother. The young Bruce, now penitent, is not really on board any more with the corps of public interest lawyers that had swung into action on his behalf:
“They helped me immensely with getting out of the hospital, so I was very happy,” he said. He later added, “The advocates didn’t protect me from myself, unfortunately.” …
While William believes patients deserve some protection, he said he understands his father’s fight to strengthen commitment and treatment laws. That fight took another turn last month, when Ms. Bailey and another attorney filed a lawsuit that could undermine portions of a law Joe [the father] supported. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maine, is directed at the law which makes it easier for hospitals to compel patients to take medication.
“There are times when people should be committed,” William said. “Institutions can really help. Medicine can help.”
“None of this would have happened if I had been medicated.”
(Elizabeth Bernstein and Nathan Koppel, “A Death in the Family”, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16). The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, whose heated response to the article is presumably expected any day now, can be found here.
More: A group called Treatment Advocacy Center is gathering horror stories about “experiences with federally funded Protection & Advocacy attorneys”.