DeBlasio Task Force on Mentally Ill at Riker’s Fails to Expand Kendra’s Law, fails to prevent incarceration of mentally ill, and is so vague as to be meaningless.

As a result of the NYC mental health officials refusing to make greater use of Kendra’s Law and refusing to provide supportive housing for the most serously ill, and refusing to prioritize the most seriously ill for treatment, there are now more persons with mental illness in Riker’s Island jail than all NYS psychiatric hospitals combined. Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times have done a terrific job exposing how these mentally ill individuals are regularly abused at Riker’s.

As a result, in June 2014 Mayor DeBlasio established a task force to propose remedies. Mental Illness Policy Org provided input which you can read here. In December the task force report came out. It was exceedingly vague and included almost nothing that would prevent the NYC mental health department from continuing to abandon the most seriously ill to the criminal justice system. We went on NY-1 to criticize its’ vagueness and failure to include Kendra’s Law expansion. Kendra’s Law reduces incarceration 70%. When used. NYC rarely does.

Our suggestions to Task Force on Mentally Ill at Riker’s Island Jail

Copy of the vague report.

(December 2014)

DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. He is a critic of the mental health industry for ignoring the seriously ill, and has been advocating for better treatment for individuals with serious mental illness for over 30 years. He has written op-eds on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice policy for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal and the Washington Post. New York Magazine has credited him with being the driving force behind the passage of New York’s Kendra’s Law and Congress incorporated ideas proposed by DJ in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.