Mentally Disordered Offender Unit

The Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO) commitment was created to provide a mechanism to detain and treat severely mentally ill prisoners who reach the end of a determinate prison term and are dangerous to others as a result of a severe mental disorder. The law became effective July 1, 1986. The MDO commitment is codified in §§ 2960 to 2981 of the Penal Code (PC) and regulated in §§ 2570 through 2580 of the California Code of Regulations Title 15, Division 2.

MDO is a two-phase commitment. The first phase is a certification by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Chief Psychiatrist and a parole condition imposed by the BPH. The second phase continues MDO treatment after the parolee is discharged from CDCR which is a civil commitment for involuntary treatment.

Current statute mandates the BPH to order a prisoner who meets MDO criteria to receive mental health treatment provided by the DMH by imposing a special condition of parole. Treatment is mandated to be inpatient until the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) certifies to the BPH that the parolee can be treated as an outpatient.

A MDO parolee has the right to a series of due process hearings. The BPH conducts certification, placement and annual review hearings. These hearings are conducted by BPH Deputy Commissioners to determine if commitment criteria are met, whether inpatient treatment provided by the DSH is appropriate or whether the parolee can be safely and effectively treated as an outpatient. (PC §§ 2964(b) and 2966 and CCR Title 15, Div. 2, §§ 2576 – 2580.)

MDO statutes provide MDO parolees the right to request two independent evaluations for each of the hearings mentioned herein. The independent professionals must be approved by the CDCR and DSH.

MDO Scheduling Process