Although it is unlikely, it has become the heat when we talk about stereotypes.
The latest developments in Britney Spears’ 13-year conservatism headlines, a question long debated by advocates has suddenly become dinner-table conversation. When is it okay to take away people’s rights to protect their welfare? Can we rely on the legal system to protect us from abuse?
The 39-year-old pop star gave explosive testimony at a June hearing in Los Angeles probate court, saying that her patrons prevented her from removing her birth control device, forced her to take the drug and needed to keep performing. .
“It doesn’t make any sense,” she told the judge. “The laws need to change.”
Even before Spears’ situation drew public attention, state policymakers debate Changing California’s guardianship laws for an entirely different reason: the increasing visibility of people living on the streets not being treated with serious mental illnesses.
Proposed legislation that would change the state’s “severe disability” standard to make protection easier for people with serious mental illness has been introduced this year. Meanwhile, a bill inspired by the Spears case that requires increased transparency and tighter accountability continues to move through the legislature.
These inconsistent patronage conditions have caused much confusion in California. Is it too easy to put people on stereotypes – or too difficult? Does this process infringe on people’s rights—or protect them?
People on all sides of the conversation agree that change is overdue. But their perspectives about what the problem is – and where the solution is – often differ.
What is a Guardianship Anyway?
A guardianship is a legal system in which a court appoints a representative to make decisions on behalf of a “guardian”, a person deemed so cognitively incapacitated because of dementia, intellectual disability or serious mental illness that they can independently Can’t decide. These include everything from the right to make medical and financial decisions to control over basic life choices, such as where to live and whether to have sex or get married.
As is true in the case of Spears, conservatives can sometimes be split between the two sides. The “custodian of the person” manages the personal affairs, while the “custodian of the property” handles the financial matters.
In some states, such arrangements are called “guardianship.” In California, however, the term is reserved for arrangements involving children.
How does conservatorship work in California?
In the Golden State, there are two types of stereotypes.
Since 2008, Britney Spears has been on a probate conservatorship. These are primarily designed for individuals who have intellectual disabilities or dementia. They are granted indefinitely by a county probate judge, although conservatives can petition to have it abolished. A subset of probate guardianships are known as limited guardianships, which are reduced in scope and reserved for adults with developmental disabilities.
In contrast, the Lanterman-Petrice-Short Guardianship is designed for people with serious mental illnesses who are so “severely disabled” that they cannot provide food, clothing, and shelter. These guardianships, which are also decided by county judges, must be renewed annually. Republican Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and Democratic Sens. They get their name from a 1967 law proposed by Nicolas Petrice and Alan Short, which established strict criteria for involuntary treatment.
The two types of guardianship are different in many ways, said Alex Bernard, assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Sociology, who is researching guardianship in California. But because they share the same name, he worries the public is currently facing “apples and oranges.”
Both types of custodians can include public guardians, private professionals, or family members. But private custodians are more likely to get involved on the probate side, especially in situations like Spears’s that involve a lot of money, said Scarlett Hughes, executive director of the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators. .
“In that kind of money case public guardians will never be appointed,” she said.
How Many People Are on Conservatorship in California?
No one knows for sure. And most people agree that this is a real problem.
“It’s a big deal that it should be placed under a guardianship,” said Zoe Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Disability Rights Project. “You’re losing your civil rights, your liberties, your autonomy. It’s a really big problem that there’s so little data about something that’s so big.”
This does not mean that there are no statistics. According to the State Department of Health Care Services, self-reported data from counties showed that 1,459 people In 2019-20, Lanterman-Patrice-Petrice-were on short-term guardianship, and 3,672 were on permanent guardianship. But some experts say the data is inaccurate – for example, last year many counties, including the state’s largest Los Angeles, did not report at all.
Campbell’s Democrats Are Taking Legislator Evan Lo Assembly Bill 1194 To address this apparent lack of transparency this year, a report is being called for that outlines what is working, what is not, and how many people are affected with California conservatories.
“We want to pull the curtain back,” he said. Their law also includes provisions to prevent conflicts of interest – preventing courts from allowing custodians to pay companies in which they have a financial stake.
There is also an emphasis on greater transparency and accountability at the national level.
Earlier this month, inspired by Spears’ testimony, US Democratic Sens Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking nationwide conservation data.
“Ms. Spears’ case highlights the long-standing concerns of advocates who have underscored the potential for financial and civil rights abuses of persons placed under guardianship or guardianship,” he wrote.
House Republicans called for a hearing on the issue in the spring, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz weighed in on his podcast, calling himself “totally and unequivocally in the camp of #FreeBritney.”
Is it too easy to put someone on a stereotype? or too difficult?
It depends on who you ask – and the type of conservatism.
Some believe that getting someone on a probate conservatorship is a lot easier than Spears is. And once a decision is made, there is no annual termination and renewal process for the arrangement.
“Having a situation with very little oversight where one person has extraordinary control over another is just a recipe for abuse,” said ACLU’s Brennan-Krohn.
Instead, she wants to see more resources for less restrictive treatments that address trauma and the need for accommodation. She also wants the law to outline less restrictive options that should be tried before conservatives, including supportive decision-making processes. Nine states have them in their codes, she says, although California is not among them.
Critics of the probate system, in particular, have long warned of abuse. In 2005, the Los Angeles Times published an investigation that highlighted widespread abuse within the conservative system. In response, the Legislature passed a series of amendments in 2006. But many of the promised changes and increased surveillance were never funded because of the 2008 economic downturn, Assembly member Lou said.
Most experts agree that getting someone on a Lanterman-Petrice-Short conservatorship is more difficult, as they can reduce rights more severely—often involving lock placement and involuntary psychotropic drug use. “Clear and solid evidence” is needed to put someone on a probate conservatism. But placing someone on the Lanterman-Patrice-Short Conservatorship requires a strict standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
It’s “extraordinarily difficult” to get someone on the Lanterman-Petrice-Short Conservatorship, says Randall Hager, legislative counsel and policy advisor for the Coalition of Psychiatric Practitioners of California. The standard of evidence is “very high,” he said, and the amount of information needed to meet that standard is “huge.” He said that the court inquiry takes about 30 days.
Because of this many Family members Those trying to get over such stereotypes loved ones with serious mental illness want to see standards loosen. In recent years, several bills in the legislature have sought to amend the law, focusing on expanding the definition of what can be considered “severely incompetent”. A 2020 state audit disagree with this premise, and a bill to change that definition has been introduced for this session.
Teresa Pasquini, whose adult son Danny has been under Lanterman-Petrice-Short guardianship for 20 years, said he has seen him suffer arrest and homelessness and violence over the years, and is worried he will eventually die. She fought for the conservatism, which she says has allowed her to stabilize and get the care she needs.
“Because of the protection, he survived,” she said. “That again was just luck and valor and relationships. That’s not policy. It’s not the norm.”
Is Britney Spears stereotype the exception, or the rule?
Again, it depends who you ask.
Most people on conservatives, Lou agrees, “A 39-year-old isn’t a millionaire. There’s only one Britney Spears.”
But he, like some disability rights advocates, thinks his case points to problems within the system. Ever since he introduced the bill, he said, he had had “countless calls” from family members and individuals in similar circumstances.
“I don’t think it’s too much,” said ACLU’s Brennan-Krohn. “Of course there are parts that are – attention, money, fame, talent. Why I am following the matter closely, why the ACLU got involved in this case, what we see in it is really, really familiar. The Spears case is a “very good catalyst” for reform, she said, because “it really happens to people all the time.”
But others caution against dealing with Spears’ situation with someone who is homeless and living with a serious mental illness.
“I find any sort of reform based on meeting Britney Spears’ needs really alarming,” said NYU’s Barnard.
So how to fix the system?
Many who work within the conservatism system argue that the process works—it lacks resources.
“My fear is that people are not going to trust the courts to do the right thing,” said Judge Mary Thornton House, who served on the Los Angeles County Superior Court for 22 years, including eight years in probate court. “And that would be a tragedy.”
House said he thinks the public should worry less about the mechanics of the process and more about budget cuts. It would be great if probate courts could review cases more frequently, she said, “but where do you get the court resources to do that?”
Hughes, of the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators, said that most of his colleagues are “zealous supporters” of self-determination rights, and that unless absolutely necessary to meet that person’s basic needs, one cannot do not protect. But she said there is “a desert of options” for placing people on the Lanterman-Petrice-Short Conservatorship, including a Shortage of boards and care homes, closed facility bedding and other types of care. Next year’s state budget includes $805 million To invest in buying, building, or fixing board-and-care homes for counties.
“It’s absolutely a crisis,” she said. “People have been sitting in acute care hospital beds for much longer than they should because there is nowhere else to put them.”
He said paucity of funds for patrons is also a problem. He said that due to staffing issues, many public patrons can’t check on their customers as often as they want. Hughes said that for three years in a row, his organization has asked the state for money to address that issue, without success.