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Civil Commitment Laws and Population Health

posted on Wed, Jan 7 2015 3:31 pm by The Network for Public Health Law

Thursday, January 22 at 1 – 2:30 p.m. (ET). View/download the slides.

The role that civil commitment and involuntary hospitalization have played in providing mental health care has changed markedly since the middle of the 20th century. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have civil commitment laws that govern how and when an individual may be admitted to a psychiatric facility without their consent. This webinar will explore civil commitment law through a public health lens, explaining why civil commitment is needed and where it comes from, the legal background and variations in civil commitment law and practice today, and the science and scientific challenges faced in practice. It will consider these issues as they relate to current national discussions of mental illness and violence, civil liberties, and an improved health care delivery system.


  • Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D. Duke University (Moderator)
  • Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • Richard Bonnie, LL.B., University of Virginia School of Law
  • John Monahan, Ph.D., University of Virginia School of Law


This webinar is free for all attendees. Attendees may qualify for CLE credits.

The Public Health Law Webinar Series is presented in partnership by the Network, Public Health Law Research and the American Society of Law Medicine and Ethics (ASLME)