DOJ Investigating Jefferson County’s Treatment of People with Mental Illnesses

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that it is investigating whether people with serious mental illness in Jefferson County are subjected to unnecessary institutionalization in psychiatric hospitals by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

According to a press release, the investigation is being carried out under the American with Disabilities Act and will also determine whether Kentucky “unnecessarily segregates” people with mental illnesses and puts people with mental illness at risk of run-ins with law enforcement “by failing to provide integrated community-based mental health services.”

“When people do not receive the community-based mental health services they need, they often get caught in a cycle of psychiatric hospital stays,” Justice Department Civil Rights Division Assistant attorney Kristen Clarke said in a statement in the press release. “This investigation also seeks to ensure that people with serious mental illness are not unnecessarily brought into contact with law enforcement. The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing the ADA so that people with disabilities are able to receive the services they need and qualify for, and that their civil rights are protected.”

The investigation into mental health care is separate from the DOJ’s ongoing and wide-ranging pattern or practice investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department. However, the DOJ press release noted that the LMPD investigation was examining how Louisville police respond to behavioral health crises.

The DOJ is asking people with relevant information to get in touch by email at [email protected] or via an online portal at https://www.civilrights.justice.gov