Op-Ed: “Outraged Disability Community Calls for Sweeping Reforms after the Murder of Jordan Neely” by Harvey Rosenthal & Ruth Lowenkron

June 26, 2023

Baerga v. City of New York, Disability Justice, Health Justice, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response

NYLPI Peers Not Police Rally

Ruth Lowenkron, director of Disability Justice and Harvey Rosenthal, CEO of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, penned an op-ed about the need to transform New York City’s services for people experiencing mental health crises.

Jordan Neely’s heartbreaking, haunting, and cruel killing on the subway was a direct result of our city and state’s systemic failures to provide a comprehensive continuum of services and support with appropriate follow up and accountability — a view widely shared by leaders of 45 mental health advocacy agencies in a recent statement.

There is ample evidence that Neely had contact with a broad array of shelters, clinics, hospitals, street outreach teams, case management programs, and criminal justice and social service organizations. Our systems had more than a decade to meaningfully engage Neely and to provide him with sustained follow-up services and supports. Yet, at the time of his death, he had been identified by the city as one of the “top 50″ homeless individuals most urgently in need of assistance and treatment.

We often speak of our goal to provide a “no wrong door” system of mental health access. Neely, in fact, entered our system through several doors, but we failed him each time. We are too quick to label people as “hard to serve” and “non-compliant,” rather than acknowledge our system’s inability to effectively engage and support people in need with effective and voluntary measures.

Read the full op-ed at NY Daily News.

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