Judge Rules New York Violated Rights of Mentally Ill

On Tuesday, September 8th, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the United States District Court in Brooklyn ruled that New York State had illegally discriminated against 4,300 people with mental illness who were placed in 28 large adult homes in New York City (120-beds per facility) despite being capable of leading independent lives.

In a 210-page decision, Garaufis wrote that mentally ill people "are placed in adult homes by 'luck of the draw for the most part,' rather than any clinical determination that it is an appropriate setting."

He added, "The adult homes at issue are institutions that segregate residents from the community and impede residents' interactions with people who do not have disabilities . . .Defendants have denied thousands of individuals with mental illness in New York City the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs."

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Disability Advocates Inc.contending that New York was "essentially creating a chain of mental health ghettos in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws that require integration of the mentally ill into the community mainstream to teach them self-sufficiency, instead of treating them as helpless."

Numerous disability advocates agree with the ruling and believe that there are individuals that are unjustly placed in adult homes who would greatly benefit from living in their own apartments. State officials argue that the cost of individual housing would be astronomical. Albany has until mid-October to propose a "remiedial plan."