O’Ban introduces ‘Joel’s Law’ to empower families of mentally ill seeking treatment

Public hearing set Monday

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, today introduced Senate Bill 5269, to be known as “Joel’s Law,” and has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for Monday. The bill is named for Joel Reuter, a severely mentally-ill man who was shot and killed by police in Seattle in July 2013.

Numerous families are expected to testify before the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee in support of O’Ban’s measure. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 in Senate Hearing Room 1, John L. Cherberg Building.

“I have been working very closely with the Reuter family, and other parents with a similar story, who were unable to get help for their son after numerous attempts,” O’Ban said. “This is a tragic case that we don’t want repeated. I’m honored to present a solution that will empower families like the Reuters to get help for their family members.”

Even though Joel was suicidal and clearly in need of involuntary detention to get vital mental health care, his family could not get him detained. The proposed legislation would allow family members to petition the court to review the case of a severely mentally ill person who is denied treatment by a designated mental-health professional.

“Time is of the essence in getting treatment for people who are mentally ill. We must give parents this needed tool. After all, they know their children better than anyone else in most cases and are often in the best position to know their children’s condition and the urgency of getting them treatment,” O’Ban said.