Defendants with mental health difficulties should not languish in jail

March 11, 2019

Disability Justice, News

A man holding his head in his hands under a bridge

NYLPI, along with our allies, is resisting a proposed change by Governor Andrew Cuomo to New York’s criminal procedure law that would leave individuals accused of crimes, who are experiencing mental health concerns, in county jails without mental health services, rather than transfer them to mental health facilities.

Once again, Governor Cuomo has proposed a harmful amendment to Criminal Procedure Law § 730.10, affecting people with mental health concerns or cognitive impairments who are incarcerated. This statute governs the way that individuals who are not able to understand the criminal proceedings against them, or assist in their own defense (referred to as “incapacitated persons”), are treated.

Currently, these individuals are transferred to a facility to receive the treatment necessary to enable them to participate in their own defense. They are then returned to the local jail so that the case against them can proceed.

The proposed amendment, included in the Governor’s budget legislation, will allow these individuals to remain in the mental health units of county jails while they receive the necessary treatment.

Jails are not therapeutic environments and individuals with mental health concerns should receive treatment in settings that are designed to provide appropriate care.

Read the sign-on letter here.

 

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