San Francisco officials have decided to force people with serious mental illness and drug addiction into treatment without their consent, the AP reports. 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 passed 10-1. Supervisor Shamann Walton voted no, saying he had heard nothing on how the city would reduce the impact on African American people and other minorities. Supervisors who were reluctant to say yes changed their minds after hearing that Mayor London Breed introduced a budget that would include additional treatment beds. Breed backs the measure. The city's public health department says the proposal will affect only about five people but could expand to 55 people with legislation pending at the state level.
Breed and other supporters of the proposal say the move known as conservatorship is necessary to help addicts who are often homeless and suffering from a mental illness, making them a danger to themselves. Critics call the measure a violation of civil rights that runs against the principles of the liberal city. They also say San Francisco lacks the services and shelter to successfully expand the number of people in such a program. Incomes are generally high in San Francisco, but the city struggles with a growing number of homeless people and some show disturbing street behavior fueled by drugs and mental illness.
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