Court based civil commitment of alcoholics and substance abusers.
E. A. Beane and J. C. Beck,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
19(4): 359-66, 1991.
Problem. To study court ordered substance abuse commitment (SAC) in one jurisdiction. We
investigated who was evaluated, by whom, and with what outcome. Is SAC primarily a purely civil
procedure as originally intended? Are men and women being treated equally? Method: Questionnaire
survey of court clinicians to determine demographic and clinical status of persons evaluated, the
process of evaluation, and the disposition. Results: SAC is common and more frequent in criminal
cases than in purely civil ones. SAC of women is clearly influenced by the restricted choices for
disposition: either state prison or an unlocked facility. Conclusions: SAC is an important public
health procedure, which courts are using in highly variable and at times unintended ways. SAC has
emerged as an alternative to other dispositions in criminal cases involving substance-abusing