TRENTON, N.J., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill Tuesday allowing the mentally ill to be ordered into outpatient treatment against their will.
The measure takes effect a year after signing and is to be phased in over the next three years, the governor's office said. The gradual introduction of involuntary commitment is to allow centers for outpatient treatment to be set up.
Under current New Jersey state law, the mentally ill can only receive involuntary treatment at in-patient hospitals or clinics if they are found to be a danger to themselves, to others or to property.
"Mental health issues continue to be the most challenging and at times, the most perplexing for medical professionals and for families who must often make difficult decisions regarding an affected loved one," Corzine said. "Today, we are enacting legislation that will give these families options that will help protect the rights and safety of those that need help, and will ultimately prevent undue suffering."
State Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat who has been a longtime advocate of the mentally ill, said the new system will also reduce hospital stays.