Forced Treatment > Policy Documents

Position Statement on Involuntary Commitment

The Bazelon Center opposes involuntary outpatient commitment. View our position statement on inpatient and outpatient commitment for details. Proponents of involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC) cite studies to support their position, but our analysis finds these studies widely misused.

State Involuntary Outpatient Commitment Laws

The following chart provides a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of state IOC statutes as of June 2004. It does not include conditional release statutes—such as those found in Alaska, New Hampshire and Tennessee—which require a person to meet inpatient standards and be detained on an inpatient basis before a court can consider IOC. The landscape is changing rapidly but the Bazelon Center has been unable to update the chart. You can view a PDF version of the chart here.

As the chart indicates, a person with a mental illness can be committed in most of the 37 states that have IOC laws without any finding of imminent dangerousness to self or others. Even without any dangerousness requirement, a number of states explicitly allow police forcibly to pick up and detain people for mental evaluations if they have failed to comply with any provision in an IOC order. These concerns, among others, have led the Bazelon Center to oppose the use of outpatient commitment.

Groups Who Oppose Involuntary Outpatient Commitment

Media Coverage of Restraint and Seclusion

General Restraint and Seclusion Resources

Children's Restraint and Seclusion Resources

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