In Alec Buchanan & Lisa Wootton (eds.), Care of the Mentally Disordered Offender in the Community, 2nd Edition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 47-60 (2017)

Daniel Moseley
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
We describe the legal practice of using civil court orders to mandate outpatient mental health treatment for adults with serious mental illness. After briefly placing the practice in historical context, we discuss the traditional clinical rationale and assumptions underlying outpatient commitment and its legal variants, as well as how the predominant and controversial preventive form of outpatient commitment emerged in the U.S. to address limitations of earlier versions of these laws, such as "conditional release." We then consider whether, and under what conditions, outpatient commitment may be ethical, and we provide a conceptual framework for deciding such questions at the policy and individual-case levels.
Keywords outpatient commitment  psychiatric ethics  mental health law  mental illness  medical ethics
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