“Lawyers Who Break the Law” from law professor Amanda Peters is a scathing look at how the protection and advocacy (P&A) system is shortchanging the people it was meant to protect and breaking federal law in the process. “Patient advocates have lost their way,” writes Peters in Oregon Law Review. “And, their clients and clients’ families—the same groups that appeared before Congress in 1986—are paying the price.”
In 40 pages of exquisite detail, Peters describes how and why the P&A system was created, the laws that prohibit P&A lawyers from lobbying, and the aggressive efforts of these lawyers—in spite of federal prohibitions—to thwart assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) laws and other progressive legislation. She also details how P&A’s marginalize family members, whose involvement was key to Congress establishing the system in the first place.
“Lawyers Who Break the Law: What Congress Can Do to Prevent Mental Health Patient Advocates from Violating Federal Legislation” is an outstanding backgrounder for anyone who lives or works with severe mental illness. The title also suggests a course of action for everyone outraged that federal tax dollars are being used to subsidize opponents of less-restrictive treatment options that are proven to be effective in the treatment of severe mental illness. Sending a copy of Peters’ article to your U.S. Representative or Senator is an excellent way to encourage Congress to address a flagrant violation of federal law that is hurting the people it was meant to protect.