Criminal Justice Advocacy

We fight against the criminalization of mental health concerns and for the humane treatment of people in prison with mental health concerns.

Overview

The Mental Health Project advocates for people with mental health concerns involved in the criminal legal system. We represent the Brad H. Class, all incarcerated individuals who receive mental health treatment while in New York City jails. We are deeply familiar with the difficulties people with mental health concerns have within correctional facilities and in accessing essential mental health services, housing, and benefits upon release. We engage in organizing, coalition building, and legislative and policy advocacy to prevent people with mental health concerns from encountering the criminal legal system, to ensure that they receive quality healthcare during incarceration, to improve conditions in jails and prisons, and to promote appropriate discharge planning and successful reentry upon release to the community.

Ending the criminalization of mental health concerns

We are engaged with efforts to decarcerate New York and create treatment alternatives for people with mental health concerns in New York City. We are actively involved in the #CLOSErikers campaign, especially the campaign’s focus on enhancing mental health services as part of the work to #buildCOMMUNITIES. We support graduates of our advocacy courses in sharing their perspectives on why Rikers Island must be closed. We also participate in the Culture Change Working Group and Health Advisory Committee of the Mayor’s Justice Implementation Task Force.

Promoting improved healthcare and humane conditions

Our staff are active in the NYC Jails Action Coalition (JAC), which promotes human rights, dignity, and safety for people in City jails. We were instrumental in the NYC Board of Correction adopting minimum standards limiting the use of solitary confinement in City jails. We regularly testify at Board of Correction meetings and hearings about issues that affect our clients. We also assist people incarcerated in City jails in sharing their concerns with the Board through our collaboration with NYU Law’s Prison Reform and Education Project.

As leaders in Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement (MHASC), we advocate for the NYS Office of Mental Health and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to address the punitive nature of residential mental health units in state prisons and to provide therapeutic responses to people in mental health crisis.

Ending the torture of solitary confinement

First through MHASC and JAC and now through the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolate Confinement (CAIC), we seek to end the torture of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. People with mental health concerns are more likely to be placed in solitary, and the effects of isolation are devastating to their health and safety.

Read our memo of support for the HALT Solitary Confinement Act.

Reentry

People with mental health concerns are entitled to discharge planning services that provide for a smooth transition to the community. Unfortunately, many people are released from prison and jail without the services they need to succeed in the community. We provide individual advocacy for people receiving mental health treatment in NYC. Learn more about our direct services, including discharge planning advocacy for our clients. We also offer reentry workshops for people with mental health concerns returning from prison or jail.

INTERESTED IN IMPACT LITIGATION?

Read about MHP’s class action impact litigation cases.

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We welcome your questions and comments

Main Office

40 Rector Street, 9th floor
New York, NY 10006

Telephone: 646-602-5600 / 877-MHP-LAW1 (877-647-5291)

Email: mhp@urbanjustice.org

Hours

Mon-Fri: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

By appointment only

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