Homeless San Francisco

San Francisco likes to think of itself as a city of compassion. It is, mostly.

But often we don’t differentiate between feel-good bromides and real-world consequences. We are failing that with the severely mentally ill.

Free thinkers have always opposed mandatory treatment. “You can’t force someone to take medication,” they say.

That kept many silent. Locking someone up or force-feeding meds sounds draconian and mean.

But we should do it.

In bold legislation, State Senator Scott Wiener proposed an expanded conservatorship program that would put chronically ill individuals in monitored care. Mayor London Breed agrees, saying, “We have to be able to force people into treatment.” 

That’s bound to trigger a backlash.

But the fact is, what we’re doing now isn’t compassionate to anyone. It certainly isn’t for the delusional and mentally ill. Have you ever seen one who is happy? They are raging, shouting and -- sometimes -- violent. Life is miserable.

Also, talk to family and parents. Many of them would love to put their loved one in a facility that is clean and safe and administers medications. Some of the families are also concerned for their safety.

Wiener’s conservatorship law said a person is eligible for conservatorship if they were taken into custody eight times in one year as a danger to themselves or others. That’s a high bar. You’ve got to be out of control for it to happen once. Eight times is scary.

Which is the bottom line for all this: fear. Homeless campgrounds and urine stench are one thing. A predator, like the one who violently attacked a woman at the Watermark condos in August, is another. And it seems San Francisco is coming around. Wiener’s people conducted a poll on the legislation this year. It had 80 percent support.

Sounds like a mandate.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cwnevius@gmail.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

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