"Gravely Disabled" has a long history nationally as a legal vehicle to address the problem of people with "mental illness" who seemed grossly neglected after de-institutionalization, namely people with "mental illness" who are "homeless," unable to care for themselves, etc. Theoretically, it should have worked. It certainly should have worked here in Colorado where "Gravely Disabled" is so broad a creative County Attorney could drive a MackTruck through it. So why hasn't it worked? Well, there are two competing ethical and moral principles:
Take Care of People who are "Gravely Disabled"; and
Provide Services in the "Least Restrictive Environment"
Not only does Colorado have a bed shortage, but most homeless people don't need to be institutionalized -- they need:
Unfortunately, our shortage of housing and intensive services is much greater than our bed shortage. Which brings me to the ethical and moral dilemma for professionals-- the homeless person who may satisfy the criteria for "gravely disabled" -- generally shouldn't be institutionalized -- and the State doesn't have the Housing and Services needed. What to do? Well, all too often it falls on great organizations like the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to pick up the pieces. But as they themselves would say -- Housing Is Healthcare. It's time to enforce the US Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision here in Colorado and prevent the continued abuse and neglect and discrimination of people with "mental illness" who are homeless and inherently at great risk of institutionalization. Decades of word-smithing the civil commitment statutes haven't worked.