Wisconsin may change mental health laws

CREATED May 6, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Lawmakers in the state legislature are looking at Wisconsin's mental health laws.  They may make it easier to hold someone for a mental health issue.

There's a new story today that highlights why the work is critical.

The parents of a man who is accused of killing three people in Lafayette County say they warned authorities just before the killings that their son was delusional and potentially dangerous.

Doctors say Jaren Kuester didn't meet the criteria defined by state law that would have allowed the county to hold him.

A state panel was already looking at Wisconsin's mental health laws.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the ability to detain someone against their will is part of the discussion.

Vos says ultimately, they have to find a good balance.  "I always have believed that we need to maximize the opportunity to protect the public.  But at the same time I'm a civil libertarian so I want to guarantee that we don't detain people against their will without sufficient evidence," Vos said.

Vos created a special committee to look into the issue following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  He says the committee should have a report ready by the end of summer and there could be new legislation ready for consideration this fall.