From the Daily News:
There’s a drive on in Albany for legislation that would better protect New Yorkers from dangerously disturbed people who wreak bloody mayhem while off their psychiatric medications.
Prompted by the death of Sunando Sen, who was hurled last month in front of a subway train, state Senate Republicans are pushing to close loopholes in Kendra’s Law, a statute that empowers authorities to compel sick people to take the drugs necessary to keep them nonviolent, and to commit them to psychiatric facilities if they refuse.
Sen was pushed by a deranged woman with a history of violent outbursts — and of refusing to take her meds. The episode was a high-profile example of the deaths and injuries that similarly ill people inflict regularly on themselves or others.
Named in memory of Kendra Webdale, who was pushed off a subway platform by a deranged man in 1999, the law is a well-documented success that has protected the public while helping to keep mental patients out of hospitals and out of prisons. But the law also has well-documented flaws that must be addressed.
Under Conference Leader Dean Skelos, Republicans have gotten behind a bill sponsored by two upstaters, Republican Sen. Cathy Young and Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
The measure would extend the maximum term of treatment orders to one year from six months; require prisons, jails and mental hospitals to consider seeking treatment orders for mentally ill prisoners before releasing them to the streets, and stop patients from ducking supervision by moving between counties.
Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo failed to include Kendra’s Law reform in his State of the State agenda. Even more unfortunately, Assembly Democrats have long been cool to the legislation. Now, though, while Sen’s death is still vivid in memory, all must act to enhance safety for the public and for the ill.
Democrats have their own bill to address the issue, which failed to make it out of an Assembly committee last year.