THE LAW AND COMPETENCY -sound off by Rob Wood

I sent this off to the Mayor,


Dealing with the competency issue is complex because of the multi dimensional aspects of what we call mental competence. Many on our streets are a result of no institutions that can house them which is a direct result of the closing of such institutions in the 1980s. Fear of reopening them comes out of the remembrance of the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” and nurse Ratched. Of course there is the compounding of their incapacity either due to addition of drug use or opposite, permanent psychosis caused by drug use which just “drying” them out does not solve. 28 day programs have terrible track records. For some, as this judge found, options of this door versus another does offer help to those that have the wherewithal to accept help. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer free community based programs with stellar results for those that make the choice to get better even if the consequences are temporarily negative like serving some jail time or making restitution. Sometimes they need a nudge from the courts to push them in that direction which it appears they have stopped doing. That needs to be looked at.

I have offered an argument in the past for petitioning the State to authorize the building of a state run institution properly staffed in Southern NM that can house both involuntarily or voluntarily cases pending adjudication instead of the revolving door we have that continually puts the arrestee and the public at risk. Providence Road Island and Miami/Dade are working on such facilities and with reasonable human rights reflecting inpatient safety and the outside publics safety put at the forefront these are paths forward that are having positive results. Our County Triage Center is not the answer as it was never staffed accordingly and did not have any bed space to allow for involuntary stays.

Rob Wood


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