Letters to the Editor: The ACLU is right to oppose Newsom’s CARE Courts

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stands behind Gov. Gavin Newsom, listening as the governor speaks.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, listens to Gov. Gavin Newsom speak before he signed legislation that supports the state’s work to expand mental health services and behavioral health housing in September 2021.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the Editor: As a mental health professional and a mom of two adopted boys who have had their share of struggles, I commend the ACLU opposition to the CARE courts that Anita Chabria wrote about in her recent column. I currently work with parents of challenging teens and have an upward battle with California’s deeply flawed mental health system. Gov. Newsom’s bill would only make it worse.

I had my own journey with my sons, learning how to respond to them with what they needed and not to blindly take the advice of psychiatrists. Instead of wasting money on a new state court bureaucracy, let’s create integrated physical, mental and emotional support systems for all providers so we can have more loving support for our struggling youth.

Carol Passmore, San Francisco



To the Editor: I’m a lifelong San Diego resident who has personally experienced homelessness. Today, I am a productive member of my community, as a county employee and a volunteer. I lost my best friend to suicide — he was homeless and faced with forced psychiatric treatment. There is a serious problem with a system that leads people to choose death or continued life in the streets over “treatment.”

I oppose SB 1338, and I implore California’s politicians to work with homeless advocates, local churches, business owners, developers and the homeless themselves to craft solutions that offer lasting change with paths to steady employment and actual affordable housing mandates.

Forced treatment has only led more people to suicide or refusing care and has cost millions if not billions to taxpayers who are asked to foot the bill for pharmaceutical and institutional injustice and greed.

Polaris Garfield, Santa Ysabel



To the Editor: As a mother, whose daughter had psychosis and was harmed by involuntary psychiatric treatment, I applaud the ACLU opposition to the CARE Courts.

After I liberated my daughter from a hospital where she was deteriorating by the day, I found a provider trained in the Open Dialogue method, and now, three years later, my daughter is healthy and thriving, and graduated with distinction from a top university.

Open Dialogue and other non-coercive methods recommended by the World Health Organization encourage people with mental illness to seek help. In contrast, forced treatment, like that envisioned by Gov. Newsom’s CARE Court, can drive them into homelessness and tear apart families.

Scared parents looking for help for their children too often believe doctors that have been empowered by the courts but who don’t know how to build trust and obtain consent, and sometimes overprescribe medications that leave patients suffering from terrible side effects. Our voices are rarely heard.

Yulia Mikhailova, Socorro, NM