"Hate crimes against disability, even mental illness
Just thinking out loud here. What would constitute a Federal hate or civil rights crime against someone with a mental illness? Let’s look at some of the laws described on the FBI web site as “Federal Civil Rights Statutes”. Some require force or violence, others just conspiracy or intimidation. Which ones might apply to forcing into a detaining a person with mental illness in a mental institution under false pretenses?
Title 18, U.S.C. Section 241 – Conspiracy against rights
“This statute makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same).”
So, if a person with a mental illness engaged in free speech, even sharp and painful satire regarding some social condition, it might be a Federal crime to lie about the content of that speech, alleging a non-existent, non-spoken threat, so as to get that person committed to a mental institution. One might argue that it is a Federal crime to harass a resident in Federally-subsidized housing with legal service and eviction notices, based upon false testimony about free speech. Or, that it is a Federal crime for local authorities to fail to fully and impartially investigate false allegations leading to arrest and incarceration, merely because they are made against someone with a disability, even mental illness. Or a Federal crime to deprive such a person of due process, and arrange things such that the only sworn “witnesses”, “mental health evaluators”, and petitioners allowed came from the facility benefiting from the commitment. Or a Federal crime to fake evidence of outside medical history so as to justify a commitment and deprivation of civil rights.
There is no qualification here allowing Government officials at the local, state or federal level to hide behind “sovereign immunity” or “good faith performance of duties” if those officials in any way distorted facts or due process in order to achieve a commitment to a mental institution. Or, as the Oklahoma mental health code puts it, through “negligence or deficient professional skill”.
Title 18, U.S.C. Section 242 – Deprivation of rights under the color of law
“This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.”
“Acts under "color of any law" include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the bounds or limits of their lawful authority, but also acts done without and beyond the bounds of their lawful authority; provided that, in order for unlawful acts of any official to be done under "color of any law," the unlawful acts must be done while such official is purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. This definition includes, in addition to law enforcement officials, individuals such as Mayors, Council persons, Judges, Nursing Home Proprietors, Security Guards, etc., persons who are bound by laws, statutes ordinances, or customs.”
One can argue that this would make the unjust commitment to a mental institution a separate Federal crime, including such acts as false testimony and mental health evaluations to achieve that commitment. Again, there is no qualification here exempting even Federal Judges. One can even argue that 241 and 242 make illegal the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision allowing civil commitment on the basis of “clear and convincing evidence”, merely because it was just too hard for psychiatrists to distinguish between the few people who could be accurately predicted to commit violence and the rest of the bell curve. Not to mention any Federal Judge who would throw a case because one side had mental illness and was outspoken about it, while the other appeared to be “normal”.
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245 – Federally Protected Activities
This act prohibits the use of force or threat of force to discourage participation in a number of Federally protected activities and benefits. The definition of force here is not clear to me. Whether to not it includes misused of the courts, which are covered above.
Title 42, U.S.C., Section 3631 – Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing
This act also refers to the use of force or threat of force in getting a place to live, and specifically mentions “handicap” as a basis for the crime.
So where are the lawyers, FBI and U.S. Department of Justice when all this is going on? Hiding in the woodwork, perhaps. Because, why waste time and energy on people few care about, when doing the right thing would go against the current norms of societal prejudice, and even upset some Federal Judges. Better that hundreds and thousands should be unjustly incarcerated than for such heroes to face that kind of music. "