The Urban Justice Center filed this class action lawsuit in 1999, challenging New York City’s practice of discharging people with mental illness 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 psychiatric treatment in City jails each year with discharge planning services, including continued mental health care, case management, and assistance in accessing public benefits and housing.
Because the City has failed to comply with the settlement agreement, the Urban Justice Center sought an order from the court extending the agreement for another two years. In July 2009, Judge Marilyn Shafer of the New York State Supreme Court ordered the City to continue to comply with the agreement while the Plaintiffs’ motion is litigated. The City appealed that decision. On June 28, 2011, the New York State Court of Appeals reinstated Judge Shafer’s decision, which had been overturned by the Appellate Division, and allowed litigation to proceed on whether the 2003 settlement can be extended an additional two years.
On August 12, 2011, we reinstated our motion to enforce the settlement, requesting not only a two-year extension but also an order that the City modify its failed policies which have prevented the City from complying with its obligations. On April 18, 2014, Judge Geoffrey Wright granted relief to the Plaintiffs, ordering extended enforcement of the settlement for an additional two years. The decision also required the City to improve the quality of its services to comply with the settlement. These improvements include the following:
Requirement to fully staff clinical and non-clinical positions
Eliminate the dichotomy between clinical mental health providers and discharge planning service providers
Establish a more useful quality assurance system
In June 2017, the parties reached an agreement to amend the Settlement and extend its terms to July 31, 2020. The amendment stipulation and amended Settlement are posted below.
Pro bono co-counsel: Debevoise & Plimpton
Co-counsel: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest