Arizona makes it much easier than many other states to force a mentally disturbed person to get psychiatric help, even without evidence of dangerous behavior. 

A provision in state law, little known outside the law enforcement and mental health systems, gives any adult the right to petition the court for a psychiatric evaluation and, if needed, court-ordered care for someone “persistently and acutely disabled” by symptoms of mental illness but unwilling to seek or follow medical advice.

Mass shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson — who shouted at his college teachers, rambled incoherently to campus police and posted delusional tirades on the Internet — appears to fit the criteria for such a court-ordered evaluation, said Charles “Chick” Arnold, a leading Arizona expert on mental health and the law.

Yet no one sought such an intervention, and no evidence has emerged that Loughner received care of any kind.

Read the rest of this story in Saturday's Arizona Daily Star.