Much of the credit must go to Senator Catharine Young (R) and Assembly member Aileen Gunther (D) who long ago identified ways to improve Kendra’s Law and proposed the original bill on which today's action is based. We especially thank the NYS Chiefs of Police and it's President, Michael Biasotti for their help in improving care for the most seriously ill. For more info visit http://kendras-law.org/
KENDRA’S LAW LOOPHOLES THAT WERE CLOSED
- It closes the crack that allowed mentally ill individuals to be released from state prison forensic hospitals without evaluating them for inclusion in Kendra’s Law before they are released. If the person meets the criteria, the prison director must file a petition or notify the director of mental health services in the community the released prisoner is expected to reside. (See Loopholes not closed)
- It closes the crack that allowed court orders to simply expire without determining if they should be renewed. Requires Directors of Community (mental health) Services to establish procedures so that court orders that are expiring get reviewed prior to expiring. Historically, Directors of Community Services just let many orders expire without review.
- It closes the crack that allowed a court order to become unenforceable if a patient moves to a different county. Requires Directors of Community (mental health) Services to notify directors in other counties if a patient in Kendra’s Law moves to the other county. The director in the new county becomes responsible for provisioning services for the patient.
- Allows court orders to extend for up to one year. Research shows when a court order is for one year or more, the beneficial effect of the court order continues, even when the order itself expires. This provision also saves money.
- Extends the sunset from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2017.
- Leaves open the crack that allows mentally prisoners to be released from county jails without evaluation to see if they need Kendra's Law to stay safe.
- May leave open the crack that allows state prisons to discharge mentally ill prisoners who were not hospitalized prior to release without first evaluating them to see if they need Kendra's Law to stay safe. (language unclear).
- Leaves the crack open that allows involuntarily committed patients (i.e, those already 'danger to self or others') to be released from local hospitals without evaluation to see if they need Kendra's Law to stay safe while in the community.
- May leave open the crack that allows mentally ill individuals being discharged from state hospitals to continue to be discharged into the community without evaluation to see if they need Kendra's Law to stay safe. (language unclear).
- Leaves open the crack that allows officials to ignore reports from family members about people who may be becoming dangerous to self or others merely because those reports come from family members.
- Leaves open the crack that prevents doctors from presuming that a material violation of a court order is enough to trigger an evaluation to determine if the patient is likely to become danger to self or others or gravely disabled.
- Does not allow patients and their lawyers to stipulate to the findings of a psychiatrist thereby costing taxpayers more.
- Does not make Kendra’s Law permanent. This allows OMH, trade associations, and certain providers of mental health services to try to kibosh the legislation (because it requires them to serve the most seriously ill) when it comes up for renewal.
- Guns can be removed from people found not guilty by reason of insanity or who lack capacity
- Mental health professionals will be required to report to the county director of community (mental health) services who will report to the Director of Criminal Justice the names of patients who are “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others”. After review, this will get these individuals placed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Comment: We hope this reporting process is also used to get help to these persons, rather than merely do the paperwork to prevent them from owning a gun)
- The commissioner of NYS OMH shall establish procedures so individuals put on the register because of an involuntary commitment can be removed from the register, if it is safe to do so.
We thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Leader Silver, and Senate co-leaders Skelos and Klein for closing some loopholes in Kendra's Law. Much of the credit must go to Senator Catharine Young (R) and Assembly member Aileen Gunther (D) who long ago identified ways to improve Kendra’s Law and proposed the original bill on which today's action is based.