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California’s most famous homeless man is dead. His life should guide CARE Court

Officially, he was killed by pneumonia and sepsis that led to organ failure, but the real cause is the ugly fight between civil libertarians and families over when it is fair and necessary to intervene in the life of someone with serious mental illness.

Linda Privatte tries to wake up her brother, James Mark Rippee, on a sidewalk in Vacaville, Calif.(Renee C. Byer / Sacramento Bee)

When did families lose the right to protect their own loved ones? All we were trying to do was keep him alive.

That brawl over what moral and legal justice looks like for our most severely mentally ill is headed — once again — into California’s court system, where many efforts to reform our laws have been quashed in recent decades.


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