Public Health

After Newtown, CT Rethinks Commitment Rules

May make it easier to lock people up

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The first time Jeanne Maillet's family called the police on her mentally ill relative, they thought he would finally get to a doctor, get treatment and get better.

"We were so naïve," she said.

Instead, it was only one step in what Maillet calls five years of hell, trying to get him help in Connecticut's mental health system. When he's not taking his medication, he hears voices and believes he's being followed. At one point, he slept with a hammer under his bed and a machete in his car. He's had psychotic episodes and been hospitalized nine times in five years. He spent eight months in jail after starting a fire in his apartment.

He doesn't think he's ill. And Maillet wishes there was a way to require he get treatment—something she thinks would be possible in nearly every other state.

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