Countdown to renew Kendra's Law in state legislature

May 3, 2017

A New York program that allows court-ordered therapy for thousands of seriously mentally ill people will expire next month if the Legislature doesn't renew it.

Advocates say research supports making the 18-year-old policy permanent, but opponents say involuntary psychiatric treatment violates rights and stigmatizes the mentally ill.

More than 4,000 New Yorkers are treated annually under Kendra's Law, which passed in 1999 after Kendra Webdale was pushed in front of a subway train by a man with untreated schizophrenia. It is has since been temporarily re-authorized twice, but New York lawmakers have balked at making the law permanent.

The Republican-led Senate this week passed a bill to make the law permanent and it is now up for consideration in the Assembly. Lawmakers could also decide to pass another five-year extension.