In 1999, the Urban Justice Center, together with co-counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, filed this class action lawsuit challenging New York City’s practice of discharging people with mental health concerns from the City jails in the middle of the night with only $1.50 and two tokens, and without any psychiatric medication or treatment referrals. In 2003, the parties settled the case with an agreement that the City would provide the 15,000 people who receive mental health treatment in City jails each year with discharge planning services, including continued mental health care, case management, and assistance accessing public benefits and housing.
Because the City has failed to comply with the agreement, the settlement has been extended several times over the last 18 years. In 2014, the court not only extended the settlement for an additional two years but also required the City to improve the quality of its services to comply with the settlement. In June 2017, the parties amended the settlement and extended its terms to the end of July 2020. Because the City had not come into compliance with its obligations, we filed a motion to enforce and extend the settlement for an additional two-year period. On April 26, 2021, the court granted our motion over heavy opposition from the City.
The City’s discharge planning program is subject to ongoing oversight by two court-appointed monitors. (Read the Monitors’ most recent report.)
The Mental Health Project meets with individuals receiving mental health treatment in City jails to ensure that they receive appropriate discharge planning services. (This summary of the services the City must provide includes information on how to report noncompliance and how to obtain more information.)
Pro bono co-counsel: Debevoise & Plimpton
Co-counsel: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest