THE ONLINE HEADQUARTERS OF THE CAMPAIGN TO MAKE KENDRA'S LAW PERMANENT!
STUDIES OF KENDRA’S LAW
- Kendra's Law reduces crime (Columbia University, 2010)
- Independent evaluation of Kendra’s Law (Duke University et. al., 2009)
- Kendra's Law: Final Report (NYS Office of Mental Health, 2005)
- Summary of NYS-funded studies of Kendra’s Law
Latest News on Kendra’s Law:
In 2010, as New York’s Kendra’s Law approached its five-year “sunset” date, a Treatment Advocacy Center-drafted bill to plug holes in the law and make it permanent attracted 65 co-sponsors in the Legislature, and newspaper endorsements from Buffalo to Bridgehampton. But in the end, the legislative leadership and Governor Paterson chose the politically safer, OMH-recommended path of extending the law for another five years with no improvements.
This year, the prime sponsors of last year’s bill – Assem. Aileen Gunther (D-Monticello) and Sen. Cathy Young (R-Olean) – are trying again. They have introduced legislation (Assembly Bill 6987/ Senate Bill 4881) that reprises most of the substantive improvements to Kendra’s Law that the Treatment Advocacy Center recommended last year: OMH oversight over AOT renewal decisions; family input in the development of AOT treatment plans; transference of an AOT order when the patient relocates to a new county; routine consideration for AOT of patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals; et. al. (The bill does not propose making Kendra’s Law permanent.)
Currently, the bill is awaiting consideration by the Mental Health Committee of each house. You can help it advance by calling your own Assemblymember and Senator, and urging them to sign on as co-sponsors. Also, click here and here for the roster of each house’s Mental Health Committee. If one of your own representatives is listed, urge him or her to champion the bill within the Committee.
Call 518-455-4218 and ask to be connected to your NYS Assemblymember. (You don't have to know who it is before calling.) Identify yourself as a constituent and ask him or her to co-sponsor A.6987, to help people with mental illness. Then call 518-455-3216 and repeat the process for your Senator. Ask him or her to co-sponsor S.4881.
Kendra's Law Enters Its Second Decade:
Kendra's Law entered its second decade of providing successful assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in New York after Gov. David Paterson signed a bill extending the law to June 30, 2015.
Permanence Still the Ultimate Goal
Though Kendra’s Law was a hot topic in Albany during its 2010 “sunset” year, at no point did the legislature consider diluting the law or allowing it to expire. Rather, lawmakers debated whether to extend for another five years per the recommendation of the Office of Mental Health or to make Kendra’s Law permanent.
In the end, our bill for permanence drew 65 members as co-sponsors, endorsements from numerous prominent mental health and public safety groups, and overwhelming newspaper editorial support across the state but did not get out of committee. However, even those who didn’t support permanence acknowledged Kendra’s Law’s proven success in improving outcomes for people with severe mental illness who struggle with treatment compliance. Indeed, a press release from the Senate Democratic majority saluting passage of the extension bill was packed with effusive accolades for the law from several senators.
Moving into the second decade, we are indebted to all of you who lent your efforts to our Kendra’s Law campaign in so many ways. In particular, we thank the Webdale family, who continue to inspire and amaze us. Had they chosen after their daughter Kendra’s death to advocate for laws that keep people with mental illness locked out of sight, we would have understood. That they instead chose the path of empathy, compassion and treatment speaks to their remarkable decency. They are truly heroes of our movement.
With the next five years secure, the Treatment Advocacy Center will keep the flame for a permanent Kendra’s Law burning. New York families need peace of mind that assisted outpatient treatment will always be there for mentally ill loved ones who can’t seek for themselves the treatment they need. When the time comes to renew the campaign for permanence, we will need every single one of you to join us. In the meantime, please use the resources below to educate yourself on the impact of Kendra’s Law and why permanence matters. Stay in touch. We’re here because of you.
Keep in touch!
To be listed as a supporter of Kendra's Law and receive updates on the status of making it permanent, click here!
THE STAFF OF THE TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER
A MESSAGE FROM THE WEBDALE FAMILY:
It saddens us to hear that our New York state government has turned down the opportunity to make Kendra's Law permanent. The law is named for our daughter and sister Kendra who was killed by a man who suffered from schizophrenia. That loss was the most grievous loss of all. Because of this tragic occurrence our family became educated on severe mental illness and the awful consequences of non-treatment for the person who has the illness, the family that loves that person and at times for the general public.
We know this work that came to us is not in vain. We know for sure that many lives have been saved and the quality of many lives has been improved by Kendra's Law. It is a privilege to fight for those who are asking for help for loved ones and not receiving it. In Kendra's name, we continue to be a voice for treatment of those who suffer from the most serious mental illnesses. We are confident that Kendra's Law will continue to prove to be a vital tool and a feather in the cap of NYS mental health system. We have been successful in educating the public and in training law enforcement on mental illness. We have been successful in reducing hospitalizations, incarcerations and homelessness. We have been successful in bringing those who could not bring themselves into initial treatment, and in improving self-care and medication compliance. We declare our mission a victory.
WHAT IS KENDRA'S LAW AND WHY DOES NEW YORK NEED IT?
Kendra’s Law (New York Mental Hygiene Law § 9.60) allows courts to order certain individuals with brain disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community. This court-ordered treatment is called assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). The law took effect on November 8, 1999, and was renewed for five years in 2005. It should be made permanent, based on it’s success, in 2010. Kendra’s Law was initially proposed by families of individuals with the most serious mental illnesses as a way to help their loved ones while simultaneously keeping society safer. Individuals with disorders like schizophrenia often need medicines to enable them to control their own thoughts and behavior. But sometimes, they don’t recognize they are ill (“Anosognosia”) and therefore see no need to be in treatment.
In enacting Kendra’s Law, the legislature found that some people, as a result of mental illness, have great difficulty taking responsibility for their own care, and often reject outpatient treatment offered to them on a voluntary basis. These individuals often commit suicide; become homeless; end up in jail; or, on rare occasions, are involved in acts of violence. Family members and caregivers often must stand by helplessly and watch their loved ones and patients deteriorate to actual "dangerousness"
Kendra’s Law is an important advance. It allows individuals to be ordered into treatment without ordering them into a hospital. It is a less-restrictive, less-expensive, more humane form of ‘commitment’ than inpatient commitment.
In addition, the criteria to place someone in assisted outpatient treatment are easier to meet than the "imminent dangerousness" standard often required for inpatient commitment in New York. Kendra’s Law allows someone to be ordered into treatment "to prevent a relapse which or deterioration which would likely result in serious harm to the patient or others." In other words, there is no need to wait until a deteriorating consumer actually is dangerous to self or others, as in the inpatient standard; under Kendra’s Law you can start procedures to "prevent a relapse" that could lead to dangerousness. This is better for the individual and safer for society.
The law includes strict eligibility criteria and numerous consumer protections.
HAS KENDRA’S LAW FULFILLED ITS PROMISE?
Over the first ten years of its existence, Kendra’s Law has been the subject of several studies. These studies found Kendra’s Law:
- Helps the mentally ill by reducing homelessness (74%); suicide attempts (55%); and substance abuse (48%);
- Keeps the public safer by reducing physical harm to others (47%) and property destruction (43%).
- Saves money by reducing hospitalization (77%); arrests (83%); and incarceration (87%).
- Results in beneficial structural changes to local mental health service delivery including enhanced accountability and improved access to services; improved treatment plan development, discharge planning, and coordination of services.
The studies also thoroughly debunk the predictions of some that Kendra’s Law would lead to increased stigma or perceived “coercion” among AOT recipients.
A 2009 independent evaluation of Kendra’s Law addressed the important question of why the law works. In reply to those who have suggested that the impressive results are purely attibutable to enhanced services (and could therefore be obtained without the use of court orders), the researchers concluded:
“The increased services available under AOT clearly improve recipient outcomes. However, the AOT court order, itself, and its monitoring do appear to offer additional benefits in improving outcomes.”
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
If you or your organization support making Kendra's Law permanent and want to be listed as a supporter and receive updates- click here!
EDITORIAL SUPPORT AND OTHER MEDIA LINKS
Editorials supporting permanence / improvement of Kendra’s Law:
- Times-Union (Albany): Make Kendra's Law permanent (6/7/10)
- New York Post: Kendra's Law forever (5/16/10)
- Buffalo News: Make Kendra's Law permanent(3/17/10)
- Daily News: Kendra's Law protects both the public and the mentally ill (5/2/10)
- Newsday: Make Kendra's Law permanent (2/22/10)
- Gannett Newspapers (Elmira, Ithaca, Binghamton): Kendra's Law for good (5/2/10)
- Daily Star (Oneonta): Kendra's Law is worth keeping (4/24/10)
- Post-Journal (Jamestown): Make Kendra's Law permanent (5/24/10)
Op-Eds & Letters:
- Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, New York Times: Make Kendra's Law permanent (6/1/10)
- Suzanne Webdale Johnson, Buffalo News: Kendra's Law helps those most at risk (6/4/10)
- Pat Webdale, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: Make Kendra's Law permanent (5/22/10)
- Pat Webdale, Buffalo News: Measure saves lives; it should be made permanent (4/13/10)
- Chief Michael Biasotti, New York Post: Make Kendra's Law permanent (4/25/10)
- DJ Jaffe, Journal News (Westchester): Make Kendra's Law permanent and improve it (5/5/10)
- Dr. Mary Barber, Times-Union (Albany): Kendra's Law works and should be renewed (5/15/05)
Other coverage of note:
- Observer (Dunkirk): Assembly approves extending Kendra's Law (6/4/10)
- Northeast Public Radio: Coalition seeks permanent Kendra's Law (audio) (6/1/10)
- Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester): Families, advocates disagree on Kendra's Law (6/1/10)
- WTEN-TV (Albany): Kendra's Law up for renewal (video) (6/1/10)
- Gannett News Service: Lawmakers debate making Kendra's Law permanent (5/21/10)
- WGRZ-TV (Buffalo): Debate over Kendra's Law (video) (5/24/10)
- Andrea Peyser, New York Post: Fear for this state's sanity (1/7/10)
- Psychiatric News: Outpatient commitment law proves critics wrong (8/21/09)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness - New York State (NAMI-NYS)
- Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS)
- Public Employees Federation (PEF)
- District Attorney's Association of the State of NY (DAASNY)
- NYS Association of Chiefs of Police
- Citizens Crime Commission of NYC
- Former NYS Governor Eliot L. Spitzer (D)
- Former NYS Governor George E. Pataki (R)
- Dr. E. Fuller Torrey (Executive Director, Stanley Medical Research Institute)
- Dr. Xavier Amador (Author, "I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help!")
- NAMI Huntington
- NAMI of Cayuga County
- NAMI-FAMILYA of Rockland County
- NAMI Schenectady
- NAMI of Chataqua County
- NAMI in Buffalo and Erie County
- NAMI NYC Staten Island
- NAMI-AMICO (Orange County)
- NAMI Champlain Valley
- NAMI Harlem
- NAMI of Montgomery, Fulton, Hamilton Counties
- NAMI-Albany Relatives
- NAMI North Country
- Albany County Forensic Task Force
- Franklin County Probation Department
- Broome County District Attorney
- Police Chiefs Association of Orange County
- Mid-Hudson Association of Chiefs of Police
- Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association
- Town of New Windsor Police Department
- Town of Chester Police Department
- Town of Mechanicville Police Department
- Town of Cornwall Police Department
- Village of Trumansburg Police Department
- Town of Lloyd Police Department
- Town of Lowville Police Department
- Port Washington Police District
- Village of Elmira Heights Police Department
- City of Olean Police Department
- Village of Highland Falls Police Department
- City of Cohoes Police Department
- Town of Niagara Police Department
- Town of Colonie Police Department
- Village of Skaneateles Police Department
- Town of Webster Police Department
- Villages of Cambridge & Greenwich Police Departments
- Town of West Seneca Police Department
- Kappa Omega, National Honor Society for Social Work at Buffalo State
SCIENTIFIC, MEDICAL AND LEGAL BASIS OF ASSISTED OUTPATIENT TREATMENT
- Untreated serious mental illness puts law enforcement personnel at risk
- Individuals with severe mental illness, when off treatment are more likely to become violent
- Individuals with severe mental illness, when off treatment are more likely to commit suicide
- Individuals with severe mental illness, when off treatment are likely to become incarcerated
- Individuals with severe mental illness, when off medicines are more likely to become homeless
- Individuals with severe mental illness, when off treatment are more likely to become victimized
- Schizophrenia is a real disease that affects brain function
- Individuals with severe mental illness often don’t recognize they are ill and therefore refuse treatment
- Kendra's Law withstands numerous court challenges
- Full text of Kendra's Law (NY MHL § 9.60)
- Full text of A.10421 / S.7596 (a bill to make Kendra's Law permanent and improve it)
- Comparison of introduced Kendra's Law bills
- Kendra's Law data (NYS Office of Mental Health)
- Treatment Advocacy Center's Guide to Kendra's Law
- Forms you may need to initiate a Kendra's Law petition