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NYS Seal



Mental Illness in Correctional Settings

To examine the status of inmates with mental illness in our prisons and jails, and to determine what changes, if any, are necessary to facilitate treatment, diversion and recovery of New Yorkers with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system.

November 13th, 2014
10:00 A.M.
Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Hearing Room C
Albany, New York

The New York Times recently reported that 40 percent of the inmates at Rikers Island have a mental illness. Approximately 17 percent of the inmates in New York State correctional facilities, or around 9,300 people, are diagnosed with a mental illness and receive treatment from the Office of Mental Health while in prison. The majority of these state inmates are in general population, but some reside in Special Housing Units or Residential Mental Health Treatment Units while serving disciplinary sanctions and others are placed in therapeutic housing units called Intermediate Care Programs.

This hearing will examine the status of inmates with mental illness in our prisons and jails, and will explore best practices for diversion, treatment, reduction of recidivism and recovery of incarcerated New Yorkers with mental illness.

Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be accepted by invitation only and limited to TEN (10) minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible.

Twenty (20) copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.


  1. How can more mentally ill people be diverted from incarceration? What kinds of alternative to incarceration and prevention programs should be in place for mentally ill people at risk of incarceration in the community?

  2. As of the end of last year, 29 mental health courts were operating in NY. Should this model be expanded to cover all mentally ill defendants? What are the shortcomings of the mental health courts, if any?

  3. What is the current status of mental health treatment and services in prisons? In jails?

    1. What kinds of mental health treatment services are currently offered to inmates in the state and local correctional facilities in NY?

    2. What challenges remain for the treatment of mentally ill inmates in correctional settings?

    3. Are there any changes anticipated to take place within the next year?

    4. How many mental health beds are there in our prison system? Do we need more?

  4. How well is the SHU mental health exclusion law (Correction Law 137 (6( d), (e)) working and what, if anything, should be changed?

    1. The law excludes functionally impaired people with organic brain syndrome from SHU. Are such people actually being diagnosed and excluded from SHU?

    2. Reportedly, some people who probably should be classified as seriously mentally ill are still not being diagnosed correctly and are placed in SHU when they act out. How can these people be identified?

      1. Does OMH obtain community mental health records for inmates?

  5. Is there any systematic effort to treat post-traumatic stress disorder among inmates in prisons and jails? Should there be?

  6. OMH recently changed its policy to permit petitions for court-issued forced medication orders to be initiated out of prison mental health units instead of only for inmates released from CNYPC.

    1. Has this change in policy resulted in an increase in such petitions?

    2. Is Mental Hygiene Legal Services representing such inmates?

  7. People with mental illness on average spend longer in jail and in prison than people who are not mentally ill. What can we do to keep this from happening?

  8. What kinds of additional protections or training on mental illness and criminal justice should be provided for employees of:

    1. DOCCS and local correctional facilities;

    2. OMH and county level mental health staff;

    3. Police departments; and

    4. Community mental health and social services providers?

  9. What kinds of supportive services are currently in place for mentally ill people leaving prison and jail? What other services should be provided and by whom?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing Mental Illness in Correctional Settings are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail, email or fax it to:

Tana Agostini
Assembly Committee on Correction
NYS Capitol
Room 513
Albany, New York 12248
Email: agostinit@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4313
Fax: (518) 455-366
I plan to attend the following public hearing on Mental Illness in Correctional Settings to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Correction and Mental Illness on November 13, 2014.
I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to ten (10) minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 20 copies of my prepared statement.
I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

I do not plan to attend the above hearing.
I would like to be added to the Committees' mailing list for notices and reports.
I would like to be removed from the Committees' mailing list.
I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required: