Implementation of “Kendra’s Law” Is Severely Biased

Health Justice

new york state psychiatric institution

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) released a study of the implementation of “Kendra’s Law,” under which some people who are mentally ill can be forced by court order to accept outpatient treatment. The report finds – based on publicly available NY State statistics and census information – that:

  • Court orders fall much more often on black people and Hispanic people: Black people are almost five times as likely as white people to be subjected to orders and Hispanic people two and a half times more likely.
  • People in New York City are more than four times as likely to be subjected to the orders as people living in the rest of NY State.
  • Contrary to how it has been promoted, the law is applied mainly to people with multiple hospitalizations, and 85% have no history of hurting others.
  • Court orders take away great areas of people’s freedom to select their care and control many other aspects of their lives – including often how they spend their days and even where they live.
  • The racial, ethnic and geographic disparities cannot be explained away by differing rates of serious mental illness among different groups or in different areas, or by the distribution of people of different groups across the state.
  • No right to outpatient treatment exists in New York State except for those subjected to Kendra’s Law compulsory orders. A perverse result – orders are sometimes sought simply to get people the scarce services they need.

Read the full report here. Read more about the report here.


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