New Jersey must allow as many as 30% of its psychiatric patients out of incarceration in hospitals, because they do not need to be there and are being illegally detained, according to NJ.com. However, hospitals are balking and struggling to find lesser-restrictive accommodations.
The initiative resulted from a legal settlement in 2009 between the state government and a disability rights group, after it became clear that many people were being detained in hospitals who were not actually a danger to themselves or others. But the problems have continued and now the government has given hospitals a hard deadline to take action, reported NJ.com.
“By keeping individuals in the hospital when they no longer meet the commitment standard and there is an available housing option that has been assessed to meet their needs is a clear violation of their rights,” stated a government letter in February.
Mental health professionals claim there aren’t enough alternative places for the patients to go, and have described the plan as “irresponsible” and “reckless,” reported NJ.com.
Robert Davison of the Mental Health Association told NJ.com that, “This type of policy is more interested in the patients’ rights than their well-being, and that is fundamentally what is wrong with the system.”
N.J.’s deadline for releasing psych patients draws controversy (NJ.com, March 8, 2015)