Kendra’s Law Passes Senate

 

Majority Extends Mental Health & Public Protection Program Through 2015

The Senate Democratic Majority announced the passage of legislation (S7254) to keep Kendra’s law, an important mental health and public protection program fully operational through 2015.

The law had been set to expire at the end of this month.

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “Kendra’s Law honors the memory of a life lost too soon, as well as a mother who has fought tirelessly to ensure New Yorkers with mental illness have access to the treatment they need. This program is an effective, affordable, and humane form of treatment which keeps our communities safe.”

Senator Tom Morahan (R-New City), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities said, “The statewide implementation of Kendra's Law has resulted in beneficial structural changes to local mental health service delivery systems in our communities. This Law needed to be extended because it clearly improves a range of important outcomes for its recipients, apparently without negative consequences to recipients. Increased services available under Kendra’s Law also clearly improve recipient outcomes.”

Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-Jamaica), Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities said, “The extension of Kendra’s law reaffirms New York State’s commitment to helping those with a mental illness and numerous hospitalizations to receive court ordered outpatient treatment through community based services. These select groups of people, like all New Yorkers, should be assisted in a manner that improves their safety and quality of life. The impact Kendra’s Law has reverberates through our communities as those who need good care and treatment plans but may not be acutely aware of their illness will be able to receive it in a community setting. Hospitals will have lower rates of retention with patients who have psychiatric disabilities, and our neighborhoods will have an increase of individuals who will not pose a risk to our society, but rather are willing to contribute.”

Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany), Chair of the Insurance Committee said, “Kendra’s Law has been a model of success in New York State and 44 others that have similar laws. Studies have shown that people receiving treatment under Kendra’s Law are less likely to need hospitalization, to become homeless and to do harm to themselves or others. I fully support this legislation.”

Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "Kendra's Law is an important feature of our mental health system because it ensures that the courts are able to mandate individuals with mental illness and a history of hospitalizations or violence participate in community-based services appropriate to their needs. Over the last 10 years, we have seen many positive effects come out of this law that benefit the entire mental health system. Further, it allows better interaction between the court system and the mental health system so that those who come through the criminal justice system and need help are receiving that help."

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District D/WF) said, "Kendra’s Law is a critical piece of legislation that has been shown to enhance public safety and improve the lives of the mentally ill. I am proud to join my colleagues in support of expanding and strengthening this legislation, which will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of countless patients across the State of New York."

Kendra’s Law was named after Kendra Webdale, a young woman who was killed in January 1999 after being pushed in front of a New York City subway train by a person who was living in the city without being treated for his mental illness. That year, the Legislature enacted a law that creates a statutory framework for court-ordered Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), to ensure that individuals with mental illness and a history of hospitalizations or violence participate in community-based services appropriate to their needs. The legislation establishes a procedure for obtaining court orders for certain individuals with mental illness to receive and accept outpatient treatment. A person cannot be placed under AOT unless:

  • The person is at least 18 years old;
  • The person is suffering from a mental illness;
  • The person is unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination;
  • The person has a history of lack of compliance with treatment for mental illness that revealed serious violent behavior or required hospitalization;
  • The person is unlikely to voluntarily participate in the outpatient treatment;
  • The person is, according to his or her treatment history and current behavior, in need of the treatment to prevent a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in serious harm to the person or others;
  • The person is likely to benefit from AOT.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Reauthorized in 2005, the statewide implementation of Kendra’s Law has resulted in beneficial structural changes to local mental health service delivery systems. An independent study from 2009 showed that New York State’s AOT Program improves a range of important outcomes for its recipients, apparently without negative consequences to recipients.

This legislation passed 55-0; it has also passed the Assembly.