Well, here we go again. We have to deal with a failure in the civil rights law again. This time, Las Vegas. Next time, maybe here.

The failure: No longer can people be institutionalized for mental illness unless they are proven to be a person who can harm themselves or others. Trouble is, we find out after the fact most of the time.

Years ago, mental illness was treated differently, obviously barbaric in some situations granted, but mentally ill people were taken off of the street. No so today. A mentally ill person’s civil rights are attacked if there is an effort to make that person take their medication. Their civil rights are attacked if you put them in a home for supervision if they don’t want to be there. And, at any time, that mentally ill person can leave that home whenever he or she wants. If you try to stop them, you are attacking their civil rights.

The homeless population ranks have grown exponentially because of our lack of effort to infringe on their civil rights. Most of these people who slip into “another world” are men, unfortunately. Families tend to take care of girls and women and deal with the illness. Men, not so easy for a family, city, county, or society.

I’m no doctor, but it’s important that we all understand why these terrible things have happened and will continue to happen in the future.

When will we ever learn? Change the law.

Ed Davis, Bakersfield