Letters to the Editor

Letter: Mental health and rights

In a recent letter, Michael Hidek took issue with my commentary about criminals having more rights than the mentally ill. Specifically, that I didn’t discuss families who suffer from their loved one’s mental illness. These families have my sympathy.

But Mr. Hidek made one of my points when he wrote, “As a former professional in the mental health field, I have experienced families with psychotic members who have been hospitalized, some as many as 35 times.” The Alaska Supreme Court has heard cases where a person has been forcibly committed and drugged nearly 70 times.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I ask mental health professionals to consider whether psychiatric incarceration and forced drugging is “treatment,” or is it confinement and control? Alaskans who have committed no crime and pose no emergency are processed through a revolving door of forced warehousing and drugging that doesn’t produce treatment results. They and their families are both victims — of a Legislature that has defunded community programs and a court system which fails to require humane treatment that respects constitutional rights to privacy and liberty.

— Val Van Brocklin


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Val Van Brocklin

Val Van Brocklin is a former state and federal prosecutor in Alaska who now trains and writes on criminal justice topics nationwide. She lives in Anchorage.