New York State Legislation on Prisoners with Mental Illness

The Prisoners' Rights Project was active in the coalition of organizations that came together to work on passing legislation that would end the housing of prisoners with serious mental illness in the isolated confinement settings in the New York State prisons. The coalition, Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement ("MHASC"), pushed for legislation at the same time that the Disability Advocates litigation was progressing in the federal court. The legislation, largely modified to match the settlement that had been reached in the litigation, was passed January 29, 2008 and amends several New York statutes. The legislation expands on the settlement, making many provisions into law, as well as, providing for more diversion from segregated confinement housing into mental health housing alternatives than were secured pursuant to the litigation. It also provides for monitoring of prison mental health care by the State Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. PRP staff have met with the staff of this body to discuss the most effective and appropriate methods of monitoring.