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The Lanterman–Petris–Short (LPS) Act (Chapter 1667 of the 1967 California Statutes, codified as Cal. Welf & Inst. Code, sec. 5000 et seq.) regulates involuntary civil commitment to a mental health institution in the state of California. The act set the precedent for modern mental health commitment procedures in the United States. The bipartisan bill was co-authored by California State Assemblyman Frank D. Lanterman (R) and California State Senators Nicholas C. Petris (D) and Alan Short (D), and signed into law in 1967 by Governor Ronald Reagan. The Act went into full effect on July 1, 1972. It cited seven articles of intent:
- To end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of mentally disordered persons, people with developmental disabilities, and persons impaired by chronic alcoholism, and to eliminate legal disabilities;
- To provide prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with serious mental disorders or impaired by chronic alcoholism;
- To guarantee and protect public safety;
- To safeguard individual rights through judicial review;
- To provide individualized treatment, supervision, and placement services by a conservatorship program for gravely disabled persons;
- To encourage the full use of all existing agencies, professional personnel and public funds to accomplish these objectives and to prevent duplication of services and unnecessary expenditures;
- To protect mentally disordered persons and developmentally disabled persons from criminal acts.
The Act in effect ended all hospital commitments by the judiciary system, except in the case of criminal sentencing, e.g., convicted sexual offenders, and those who were "gravely disabled", defined as unable to obtain food, clothing, or housing. It did not, however, impede the right of voluntary commitments. It expanded the evaluative power of psychiatrists and created provisions and criteria for holds.
Prior to 1987 it was assumed that the Act allowed involuntary treatment for those who were detained under an initial three-day hold (for evaluation and treatment) and a subsequent fourteen-day hospitalization (for those people declared after the three-day hold to be dangerous to themselves or others or gravely disabled). However, in the 1987 case of Riese v. St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center, the California Court of Appeal declared that these people had the right to exercise informed consent regarding the use of antipsychotic drugs, except in an emergency, and if they rejected medication "a judicial determination of their incapacity to make treatment decisions" was required before they could be involuntarily treated. This case was a class action suit brought in the name of person Eleanor Riese by the California ACLU. Eleanor Riese's story is depicted in the movie 55 Steps.