National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

IV. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, and those reasons set forth in plaintiffs-respondents' brief, dated September 12, 2000, the Order of the Supreme Court, New York County (Braun, J.S.C.) should be affirmed, the relief requested by plaintiffs should be granted, and this Court should grant such other and further relief as it deems just and proper.

Dated:New York, New York September 12, 2000

Respectfully submitted,


    Mitchell A. Karlan

200 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10166-0193
(212) 351-4000

Attorneys for Amicus Curiae


The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ("NAMI") is the nation's leading national grassroots self-help support and advocacy organization of individuals who suffer from serious mental illness, their family members and friends. NAMI was formed in 1979 and is currently comprised of over 200,000 members, with over 1,200 state and local affiliates. NAMI's work focuses on educating the public about severe mental illness as treatable brain disorders and advocating for the advancement of treatment and services for people with these disorders. NAMI and its members have a long history of advocating for policies and programs both to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of people with serious and persistent mental illness and to facilitate better services for persons with these illnesses during incarceration and following discharge. NAMI-Metro-NYC is NAMI's largest New York City affiliate. With more than 1,000 members, NAMI-Metro-NYC actively advocates for better treatment and services for people with mental illnesses in New York City. NAMI-New York State is NAMI's state umbrella organization for more than 70 affiliates throughout New York State.

The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law ("Bazelon") was formed in 1972 and is the leading national legal advocate for people with mental illness and mental retardation. Bazelon's work is currently focused on the reform of public systems to serve individuals with mental disabilities in their communities, the provision of housing, health care and support services for the mentally ill, and protections against discrimination against the mentally ill.

The American Orthopsychiatric Association was founded in 1924 by Dr. Karl Menninger and others to foster a preventive approach to mental health. It is the premier interdisciplinary mental health organization, with 5,000 members, including nearly 1,000 in New York State. It is comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, educators, nurses, counselors, administrators, sociologists, anthropologists, lawyers, clerics and other professionals serving clients in the mental health context. It fosters collaboration among these disciplines, spurs development of new approaches, explores theoretical and clinical issues, and promotes integration of research, treatment and social policy. The Association has served as amicus curiae in many important mental health and developmental disabilities cases, including cases heard in this Court, the New York State Court of Appeals, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. The Association firmly supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue their treatment upon release.

The Coalition for the Homeless is the nation's oldest and most active organization dedicated to providing housing, advocacy and other services to homeless people. Through its housing and direct services programs, the Coalition serves more than 3,000 people daily, a majority of whom have identified special needs, including mental health needs. The Coalition has a long record of advocacy on behalf of New Yorkers with mental illness, including advocacy which helped bring about the provision of supported housing through the New York/New York I and II programs, and litigation to enforce the rights of mentally ill New Yorkers to receive discharge planning and community services upon release from hospitals. The Coalition has also been designated as the institutional representative of the plaintiff classes of homeless men and women in the State Court Callahan v. Carey and Eldredge v. Koch litigations, in which court orders require the provision of shelter and services to homeless adults, including substantial numbers with mental illness. The Coalition firmly supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue their treatment upon release.

The Coalition of Voluntary Mental Health Agencies, Inc. is a not-for-profit incorporated umbrella advocacy organization representing over 100 non-profit community-based mental health agencies that serve more than 500,000 clients in the five boroughs of New York City. The Coalition was founded in 1972. Member agencies provide a variety of mental health services to their clients including day treatment, clinic treatment, supervised housing, healthcare, rehabilitation services and case management. Several member agencies operate substance abuse programs and programs for people with co-occurring disabilities (e.g., substance abuse and mental illness) who have been discharged from correctional facilities after receipt of mental health treatment while incarcerated, and require continued mental health treatment after release. The Coalition conducts research, gathers information and engages in educational efforts directed to the public, legislators and regulators. The Coalition understands the vital importance of community-based mental health treatment and supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue their treatment after release.

Community Access is a not-for-profit agency providing housing, education and career development for people with psychiatric disabilities in New York City. Through 400 units of transitional and permanent supportive housing, it offers a home and the opportunity to build a social support network to people coming from homeless shelters and institutions. Supportive housing staff assist residents in gaining access to clinical services they need and want. In addition, it engages people with mental illness in relevant policy advocacy. It also provides clients with academic education, training, career planning, internships and job placement. Community Access firmly supports efforts to assist mentally ill jail inmates with continuing their treatment after release.

The Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, which has provided free legal services to indigent New York City residents for nearly 125 years, supports efforts to assist mentally ill jail inmates to continue their treatment upon release. The Society's Criminal Defense, Criminal Appeals and Civil Divisions all have extensive experience in representing poor New Yorkers who are mentally ill. In recent years, the Criminal Defense Division ("CDD") has handled 200,000 cases annually. Because of the prevalence of mental illness among defendants, CDD employs attorneys, paralegals and social workers who are dedicated to serving clients diagnosed with acute mental illness. The CDD's Special Litigation Unit, which litigates cases concerning the civil rights of people accused of crimes, has handled several cases involving the rights of mentally ill defendants. The Society's Prisoners' Rights Project ("PRP") advocates on behalf of inmates in the New York City jails and New York State prisons, and when necessary conducts class action litigation on the conditions under which they live. One such case was Reynolds v. Sielaff, settled in 1990, which addressed the quality of services and the conditions in the City hospitals' forensic units. More recently, PRP has been co?counsel in two class actions seeking to improve the quality of mental health care for prisoners in State correctional facilities. The Civil Division engages in litigation and advocacy on behalf of poor individuals and families with a wide range of problems, among them housing and benefits issues. A significant number of its clients are mentally ill.

The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. ("MHANYS") traces its history to the late nineteenth century. MHANYS is a not-for-profit membership organization composed of 32 community-based affiliates serving 39 counties. The affiliates provide services and advocacy to the residents of their communities. MHANYS is a leader in advocating for available and accessible mental health services at the state level. The growing trend toward the criminalization of mental illness is among MHANYS' principal advocacy priorities. MHANYS is also an active participant in the federal policy advocacy efforts of the National Mental Health Association. MHANYS provides a variety of education and training services in cooperation with the New York State Office of Mental Health, including a training program for mental health service providers who work with people released from state prisons. MHANYS supports diversionary programs, increased mental health services in jails and prisons, and enhanced discharge planning.

The Mental Health Empowerment Project is a not-for-profit organization with the objective of maximizing the freedom, independence and recovery of clients of the mental health system. It provides training in advocacy, empowerment and self-help to consumer groups throughout New York State, and technical assistance to consumer-operated organizations. From its base in Albany, it has helped to start and works closely with over 500 self-help and advocacy groups and 30 non-profit corporations run solely by mental health consumers. The Mental Health Empowerment Project firmly supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue treatment upon release.

The Mood Disorders Support Group, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1981. It now has over 700 dues-paying members in the New York City metropolitan area and a mailing list of over 2,000 people. Its primary mission is to assist people with mood disorders and their families and friends. It also educates the community at large about depression and manic depression, in order to emphasize their seriousness and reduce stigmatization. The Mood Disorders Support Group sponsors well over 100 "rap groups" per year, a lecture series by prominent professionals, a newsletter, a helpline, training programs by professionals for its rap group facilitators and telephone representatives, and the distribution of relevant literature. The Mood Disorders Support Group is particularly interested in this case because manic-depression and major depression are among the serious mental health diagnoses frequently associated with people in the New York City jail system. The Mood Disorders Support Group firmly supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue treatment upon release.

The New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services ("NYAPRS") is a statewide coalition of New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities and the professionals who work in partnership with them in a variety of psychiatric rehabilitation and self-help service settings across the state. The rehabilitation services foster development of goals and skills relevant to the social, work, academic and community aspects of people's lives and include clubhouses, employment services, and intensive psychiatric rehabilitation centers. The self-help organizations include peer advocacy and support organizations, "peer bridge" services and consumer-run drop-in centers. NYAPRS is a not-for-profit organization with approximately 120 individual and organizational members. Through its organizational members, NYAPRS reaches and supports the efforts of approximately 15,000-20,000 recipients and providers of mental health services. It promotes a shift to a recovery-oriented service environment, promoting the wide availability of psychiatric rehabilitation and peer-operated services, and promoting the rights of people recovering from mental illnesses. To further these goals it engages in advocacy on policy and funding issues, acts as a clearinghouse for information, provides a variety of mental health service provider training programs, and operates innovative model programs. NYAPRS firmly supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue treatment following release.

The New York State Defenders Association ("NYSDA") is a not-for-profit membership association of more than 1,400 public defenders, legal aid attorneys, 18-b counsel and private practitioners throughout the state. With state funding, NYSDA operates the Public Defense Backup Center offering legal consultation, research and training to the more than 5,000 lawyers who serve as public defense counsel in criminal cases in New York. Under its contract with the State, NYSDA is obligated to "review, assess and analyze the public defense system in the state, identify problem areas and propose solutions in the form of specific recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, the Judiciary and other appropriate instrumentalities." It believes that the failure of New York City to interdict the cycle of recurring harm that occurs when indigent mentally ill prisoners are released without adequate discharge planning, as alleged in this case, represents a crisis for public defense lawyers as well as their mentally ill clients. NYSDA has for years worked with NAMI-New York State (also an amicus) and others to assure that its clients receive appropriate after-care services when they are released from jails. It strongly believes that the decision below represents a tremendous step forward for New York City and for people with mental illness.

The New York State Independent Living Council ("NYSILC") provides support to the statewide network of thirty-seven Centers for Independent Living. These centers are consumer-driven and serve the interests of people with all types of disabilities through "systems advocacy" and the provision of services designed to help people with disabilities gain independence and self-sufficiency. One of NYSILC's primary functions is to develop and pursue a public policy agenda to promote systemic change consistent with its vision of a world in which people with disabilities experience equal rights and opportunities in all aspects of society. NYSILC supports efforts to enable mentally ill jail inmates to continue their treatment upon discharge because it recognizes that, without continuing treatment, many such individuals will be unable to maintain health and freedom.

The State Communities Aid Association ("SCAA") was founded in 1872 when a group of civic-minded individuals was asked by New York State to help develop progressive human services laws. It is an independent, statewide, non-profit public policy organization which promotes progressive policies in health, mental health, children's services, and economic security. SCAA was involved in the development of the Public Health Law and the creation of the State Department of Health, the creation of the first after-care system for people released from state psychiatric hospitals, and the enactment of the Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act. SCAA's work on behalf of people with mental illness dates back to the 1880s, when it sought their release from poor houses. SCAA firmly supports efforts to link mentally ill jail inmates to community-based services upon their release.