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San Francisco To Force Some Mentally Ill Drug Addicts Into Treatment

Police at a homeless encampment in San Francisco
Police at a homeless encampment in San Francisco
Ben Margot / AP

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San Francisco officials decided Tuesday to force some people with serious mental illness and drug addiction into treatment, even if it goes against the spirit of a city known for its fierce protection of civil rights.

Several members of the Board of Supervisors voiced deep concerns Tuesday about the possibility of taking away a person’s civil liberties, but the proposal for a pilot program passed 10-1.

Mayor London Breed and other supporters say the move — known as conservatorship — is necessary to help people who are often homeless, addicted to drugs and have a mental illness, making them a danger to themselves.

The measure would apply to a handful of people, the city’s department of public health estimated, although the number would grow under legislation pending at the state level.

Critics call the measure politically driven and a violation of civil rights that runs against the principles of the liberal city. They say it would lead to locking up people in facilities and that San Francisco lacks the resources to successfully expand the number of people in such a program.

With files from the Associated Press


Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), California State Senator representing Senate District 11, which includes all of the city and county of San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County; he tweets @Scott_Wiener

Eve Garrow, homelessness policy analyst and advocate at the ACLU