Fax from Albany
March 4, 2005
Board Members, Affiliate Executive Directors, Interested Parties
Glenn D. Liebman, CEO
(518) 434-0439 ext. 20
US ON MONDAY, MARCH 7TH FOR MHANYS’ LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE: We
hope that you will join us on Monday for our Legislative Conference which
will provide MHA affiliates and all others interested in mental health
advocacy the opportunity to become familiar with the legislative process,
policy makers, and to advocate on issues impacting New Yorkers with mental
health needs. Our day will include an overview of many of the important
issues faced by New York's mental health advocacy community, the components
of MHANYS' 2005 Legislative Agenda,
as well as appearances by New York’s top mental health policy makers.
2005 Legislative Agenda consists of 5 components:
- Timothy’s Law
- Increased housing availability and capacity
- Planning for the future that includes input from all stakeholders
- Continued access to Medicaid, including open access to prescription
- Prison and jail reform, including elimination of SHU for inmates with
• OMH Commissioner Sharon Carpinello
• NYS Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Chair
• NYS Assembly Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental
Disabilities Chair Peter Rivera
• NYS Senator Thomas Libous
• NYS Assemblymember Paul Tonko
• NYS Assemblymember Joel Miller
• NYS Assemblymember Donna Lupardo
will be provided with time to meet with their individual representatives
in the afternoon. Appointments must be scheduled in advance.
MHANYS’ Legislative Conference and Lobby Day
711-A Legislative Office Building, Albany, 9:00-12:00
NEWLY REDESIGNED TIMOTHY’S LAW WEBSITE: The redesign of the
Timothy’s Law website, www.timothyslaw.org,
has been completed! This marks a really exciting moment for Timothy’s
Law supporters, as we enter the thick of 2005 with a fresh new look, fighting
harder than ever for enactment of Timothy’s Law.
the new website, you can join Timothy’s Team, e-mail your Senator
in support of Timothy’s Law, and keep up-to-date with upcoming Timothy’s
hope you enjoy the new website and that you’ll direct others to
it as well.
Budget - Please take just a minute to send your Senator and Assemblymember
an e-mail regarding the Governor’s 2005-06 proposed budget using
MHANYS’ Online Advocacy at http://www.mhanys.org/policy/advbudget.htm.
Urge your representatives to reject proposals that would negatively impact
individuals with mental health needs in New York.
Drug Program - In addition, we have also provided you with an opportunity
to urge your Senator and Assemblymember to reject the Governor’s
proposed Preferred Drug Program (PDP). You may send your legislators an
e-mail, detailing the problems with the PDP at http://www.mhanys.org/policy/advpld.htm.
you’re unsure of who your Senator and/or Assemblymember are, simply
enter your address in the Board of Elections search page at http://map01.elections.state.ny.us/boe/main.asp
RELEASES KENDRA’S LAW REPORT: As part of the 1999 law that implemented
the AOT process, commonly referred to as Kendra’s Law, there was
a requirement that OMH report on the implementation of the law after 5
years, but before the law expires on June 30, 2005. This week, OMH released
that final report on Kendra’s Law, which can be found at http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/kendra_web/finalreport/AOTFinal2005.pdf.
Following is an excerpt from OMH’s report:
of AOT Proceedings
Petitions, Court Orders and Service Enhancements: Between November 1999
and December 31, 2004, 10,078 individuals were referred to local AOT coordinators
for investigation to determine potential eligibility for an AOT court
order. Referrals resulted in petitions filed for the issuance of an AOT
court order for 4,041 individuals (40% of all individuals referred); of
these, petitions were granted and court orders issued for 3,766 individuals
(93% of all individuals with petitions filed). Investigations led to service
enhancements rather than court orders for 2,863 individuals (28% of all
investigations). Court orders and service enhancements have been issued
in all regions of New York State, with 58% of all court orders and service
enhancements occurring in New York City. Table 1 summarizes data on outcomes
of the judicial procedures associated with AOT.
of Time in AOT: As noted in Table 1, as of December 31, 2004, 3,766 individuals
had received court ordered treatment through AOT. Initial court orders
for AOT recipients are generally six months in duration. Court orders,
however, can be renewed and recipients may receive additional court orders
after previous orders expire. About one third of AOT recipients spend
six months under court order. Court orders for most AOT recipients (64%)
are renewed and so the majority of individuals remain under court order
for more than six months (Table 2). Figure 2 shows the total amount of
time spent by recipients in AOT. The average length of time recipients
remain under court order is 16 months.
for Non-Renewal of Court Orders: OMH staff also collects information on
the reasons for non-renewal of courtorders. The most frequently cited
reason is that the individual has improved and is no longer in need of
court-ordered services (76%). The next most frequently cited reason is
that the individual is hospitalized at the end of the court order and
a long stay in the hospital is anticipated (10%).
Situation at Termination of AOT: At the time of court order expiration
most individuals were living either in independent or supervised community-based
settings. Fifty two percent were living in independent settings, alone
or with parents, spouses, other relatives, or other persons. Twenty-two
percent were living in either assisted/supported living or supervised
living settings. Twelve percent were in psychiatric inpatient settings,
while three percent were incarcerated at the time their court order expired.
is Mental Health Awareness Month
Annual Walk for Mental Health
of May 14 – May 20, 2005
November of 2004, several advocates from across the state walked 122 miles
in support of Timothy's Law. The walk went from Warwick, NY to Albany,
NY and culminated in a rally of more than than 600 individuals gathered
for Mental Health Parity.
year, two advocates involved in the Walk for Timothy’s Law in Memory
of Robin Jane Desrats, Ann Berardinelli of Families with Bi-Polar Children,
and Ali Zimmerman, an employee of Independent Living, Inc., are planning
an annual Walk for Mental Heath during May is Mental Health Month.
the week of May 1st through the 20th, they will be getting walkers from
each county to participate in a relay-type walk from the four corners
of the state, converging on Albany on the 20th.
you are interested in participating, please contact Ann or Alexandra -
e-mail the Walk Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call Ann at (845) 566-0810 or Ali at (845) 703-1042 and they will connect
you with the agency coordinating the walk in your region.
Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement
MHASC Legislative Day
March 14th, 2005
FOR A SEAT ON THE BUS TODAY!
Call Sean at (212) 780-1400, ext. 793
March 14th, the Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement coalition
will be hosting a Legislative Day/Rally in Albany, NY. Please join us
to end the placement of psychiatrically disabled prisoners into solitary
confinement or SHU. On March 14th, you will have the opportunity to:
Attend a Press Conference
• Participate in a “BOOT THE SHU” Rally
• Meet with Elected Officials
• Change Law
In the News: On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, The New York Times
published a scathing series of articles by Paul von Zielbauer on the provision
of health services in New York City jails. Similar to the series of articles
on the conditions in many adult homes two years ago, these articles expose
the quality of health care provided to inmates in New York by the for-profit
company, Prison Health Services. Perhaps the most pertinent article to
mental health issues is In
City's Jails, Missed Signals Open Way to Season of Suicides - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/28/nyregion/28jail.html.
You may also want to read the other articles, Private
Health Care in Jails Can Be a Death Sentence, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/nyregion/27jail.html
Spotty Record of Health Care at Juvenile Sites in New York, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/01/nyregion/01jail.html
loses son, lobbies for mental health coverage. By Erik Kriss
Syracuse Post-Standard, February 28, 2005
O'Clair is a big, square man with a full beard, his broad shoulders and
barrel chest squeezed into a faded polo shirt.
not a typical inhabitant of the state Senate and Assembly lobbies, but
for more than two years, that's where the state Thruway Authority mechanic
has spent much of his free time.
pleads with legislators to change limitations in New York's insurance
laws he feels led to his son's 2001 suicide.
is the driving force behind "Timothy's Law," a bill to require
insurers to provide mental health coverage equal to that for physical
O'Clair, the youngest of Tom and wife Donna's three sons, took his own
life at the age of 12. His father is rarely seen without a button bearing
Timothy's photograph pinned to his shirt.
Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed Timothy's Law, but the GOP-controlled
Senate has not.
not here is what motivates me," said O'Clair, a resident of Rotterdam
who burns most of his vacation and personal time to wage his battle at
the Capitol - when he's not volunteering at a local suicide prevention
know what it's like to lose a child," he said. "I don't want
other parents to find out."
found out, in the course of trying to get Timothy help, that he himself
suffers from depression, a trait that can be inherited.
admits his family is concerned about him now, but he says that won't dissuade
him from continuing.
know I will be able to say when enough is enough, and I don't see that
happening before Timothy's Law is enacted," he said. "Do I get
tired? Yes. Do I want to give up? No way."
main criticism of Timothy's Law is its potential cost. Small businesses
have fought extra health insurance mandates for years, saying they increase
the cost of premiums to the point where companies drop all insurance for
doesn't buy it. He argues that mental health treatment as a preventive
measure saves the higher costs of emergency room visits and hospitalization.
Republican senators - including John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse; Michael
Nozzolio, R-Fayette; and James Wright, R-Watertown - as well as virtually
all the Democrats, have signed on to co-sponsor Timothy's Law. But Senate
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, has blocked it from coming
to a vote, admitting he's the heavy in reflecting the concerns of business.
impasse led Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, to introduce a bill last
year he and his fellow Senate Republicans billed as a "compromise"
didn't even come close to earning the right to be associated with Timothy's
name," O'Clair said. "It would have cut out adult treatment,
alcohol substance abuse; it would have limited the mandate to businesses
of 50 or more (employees); it would have, in effect, eliminated the coverage
we (already) have when it reached its sunset."
sparring with Republicans now, but O'Clair grew up in Knox, outside Albany,
the fourth of seven children to Clem, a Republican town committeeman and
candidate for town judge, and Patricia, an opponent of legalized abortion.
says he is still a Republican, but, raising an eyebrow, adds, "so
This article is interesting in consideration of the Governor’s proposal
to cut the mental health Aid to Localities portion of the budget by $3.9
million this year, on top of last year’s $7.7 million cut.
to Localities Fails to Keep up with Inflation. By Matt Smith
Associated Press, February 26, 2005
finds state revenue-sharing funds have declined by nearly 27 percent since
-- Unrestricted state aid to local governments has failed to keep pace
with the rate of inflation and has dropped by almost 27 percent since
1988, according to a report Comptroller Alan Hevesi released Friday.
unrestricted aid -- also known as revenue sharing -- can be used by local
governments for any purpose. Hevesi said since its highest level of $1.1
billion in 1988-89, unrestricted aid has declined by 26.5 percent, while
inflation has jumped 65.5 percent.
state revenues during that 17-year period rose by 93 percent, according
to the report.
sharing has declined significantly," Hevesi said. "Local governments
face tremendous challenges and state leaders need to determine the best
methods to meet local governments' needs."
aid was cut by more than half -- to $532 million -- by Gov. Mario Cuomo
in 1992-93. The aid has crept back up under Gov. George Pataki through
what Hevesi called "modest" across-the-board increases and the
creation of new aid categories.
reliant on unrestricted aid are the state's cities. While New York City's
aid has declined by $327.9 million, cities outside the Big Apple have
seen a $117 million increase since 1988. However, most of that increase
has been targeted to upstate's largest cities, particularly Buffalo and
out of three cities receive less aid than they did 15 years ago,"
said Edward Farrell, executive director of the New York State Conference
a result, most cities have had to cut programs and raise property taxes,
hit hard by the aid decline have been town governments, which have seen
revenues drop 74 percent, the report said. Unrestricted aid for towns
totals $37 million -- $108 million less than in 1988. Villages, meanwhile,
have seen a $33 million decrease.
as part of his proposed $105.2 billion budget for the state fiscal year
beginning April 1, would rework the revenue- sharing program by adding
new funding for local governments that show fiscal restraint.
aims to aid mentally ill inmates. By Rebecca Baker Erwin
The Journal News, February 28, 2005
government officials are trying to learn how to help mentally ill inmates
in the Rockland County jail.
Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and county Legislator John Murphy are forming
a task force in the mental health and law enforcement fields to study
an Orangetown Republican and longtime advocate for the mentally disabled,
said he would like the task force to see how much it would cost to separate
mentally ill prisoners from the general population and to create a mental
health court for mentally ill people who are arrested for minor crimes.
locked up will generally exacerbate the illness," Murphy said. "Rehabilitation
has great hope associated with it."
task force is the result of a 2004 study that found 16 percent of people
in the county jail had some sort of mental illness, ranging from depression
to schizophrenia. Many of them also were addicted to drugs and alcohol.
said he wants to have 10 to 12 people on the task force within the next
month or two. The task force then will report its findings in six months.
probably a better way," he said. "Somewhere this approach is
County Sheriff James Kralik said correction officers at the jail are not
trained to counsel the mentally ill, whose unpredictable behavior can
put guards' safety at risk.
dealing with people who might tip over and become violent," he said.
"This is a major problem for county jails."
said closing Letchworth Village and Rockland Psychiatric Center has left
mentally ill people with few places to get full-time treatment.
now placed in the county jail, at least a good deal of them," he
Ann Walsh-Tozer, the county's mental health commissioner, said she would
like to establish a treatment center within the jail where mentally ill
inmates could be isolated and treated by specially trained mental health
Klika, a 56-year-old Valley Cottage man, said the task force seemed like
a good idea.
to lock them up and throw away the key doesn't make sense," he said.
the 'SHU.' By Paul Grondahl
Albany Times Union, February 27, 2005
languishing for years as a one-house bill in the Assembly, legislation
to ban the confinement of prisoners with severe mental illnesses from
solitary confinement was introduced this month by the Republican senator
who chairs the Crime and Correction Committee.
for mentally ill prisoners applaud the bill sponsored by Sen. Michael
Nozzolio of Seneca Falls, Seneca County, as a significant step in their
campaign to "Boot the SHU!" Special Housing Units are disciplinary
cells where inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
A door is unlocked remotely for one hour so an inmate can get to a caged
are 1,567 beds in 38 SHUs at maximum- and medium-security prisons. Approximately
8,000 inmates, 12 percent of the prison population, have serious mental
illnesses and the number is rising, according to the bill memo. Also,
prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in SHUs injure themselves and
commit suicide at a rate three times that of all inmates.
bill would create alternatives to SHUs for mentally ill inmates, provide
additional treatment and oversight by an outside committee, require training
for corrections officers to be developed by the state Office of Mental
biggest concern remains with the staff and securing their safety,"
Nozzolio said. "We'll look at all appropriate methods for treating
mentally ill inmates, but safety is first."
bill is identical to the bill sponsored by Jeffrion Aubry of Queens who
chairs the Corrections Committee in the Democratic-run Assembly.
Gangi, Correctional Association of New York executive director, welcomed
the political development toward abolishing harrowing conditions for people
who already are tormented.
next time, we remain,
Working to ensure available and accessible
mental health services for all New Yorkers