Some Homeless People With Mental Illness May Be Forced Into Treatment

A homeless man sleeps in the park on December 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A controversial program to force mentally ill and homeless people in San Francisco into involuntary treatment is up for a vote on Tuesday and appears ready for adoption.

The city's Board of Supervisors had until recently appeared split on how to implement a new state conservatorship law that would affect people with the most severe cases of mental health problems that pose a danger to themselves.

Officials estimate that the legislation would apply to about 50 people in San Francisco. 

"We're using our hospitals and our jails to cycle people with mental illness in and out of the hospitals, and in and out of the jail system," said Mayor London Breed, a supporter of the bill. "They are not getting healthy."

Critics say that it is a civil rights violation to force people into treatment without their consent. 

State Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) was instrumental in getting the legislation adopted in Sacramento. He said it was time to "[take> a new approach to the epidemics of mental illness and severe drug addiction that we see playing out on our streets every day."