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Statement by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding the Leaders' Agreement on Kendra's Law

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Department of Law 120 Broadway New York, NY 10271 Department of Law The State Capitol Albany, NY 12224
For More Information: (518) 473 - 5525

For Immediate Release August 3, 1999


 In January, we began the process of seeking an outpatient commitment law that would protect both the public and the mentally ill. This process was aided immeasurably by the cooperation and courage of the Webdale family, whose members were determined to transform a tragedy into something positive.In addition, we received invaluable assistance from mental health advocates, including D.J. Jaffe and others from the Treatment Advocacy Center.

This process is now nearing completion. In this regard, I commend and congratulate the leaders for reaching agreement on language of a bill that will honor the name and memory of Kendra Webdale.

This law will help ensure that the violently mentally ill will not be a danger to themselves or the rest of society. I am convinced that this legislation will help save lives in the future. Of course, the legislation is not all that needs to be done. We must continue to work to improve and expand the capabilities of the state's mental health system, and I am committed to seeing this effort through.

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KENDRA'S LAW CHRONOLOGY

January 3: Kendra Webdale, a 32-year-old aspiring screenwriter and photographer from Fredonia, is pushed in front of a subway train by Andrew Goldstein, a man repeatedly hospitalized for schizophrenia.   

January 5: Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announces a review of state laws governing the release of mental patients.    January 28: Attorney General Spitzer proposes an "outpatient commitment law" and receives permission from Webdale family to name the legislation, "Kendra's Law."

April 6: Charles Stevens, a man with a history of mental illness, is shot while wielding a sword at commuters on a Long Island train.   

April 11: New York Times editorial calls for passage of Kendra's Law, saying the Spitzer proposal has "real merit" in terms of public safety.    April 16: Krista P. Webdale writes an op-ed piece in newspapers across the state urging support for the Spitzer proposal.

April 28: Edgar Rivera, 36, is pushed in front of subway train by a man with a history of mental illness. Rivera's legs are severed by the oncoming train.

May 19
: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver signs onto Kendra's Law at Capitol news conference with the Webdale family and the Attorney General. On the same day, Governor Pataki announces similar proposal.   

May 23: New York Times runs a magazine article exposing problems in the system for treating individuals with mental illness.   

June 10: Speaker Silver reiterates his support for Kendra's Law in op-ed submission to several newspapers.

August 3: Governor Pataki and Speaker Silver announce agreement on Kendra's Law.

 
 
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