After Kendra Webdale was killed in 1999 by a schizophrenic man who pushed her into the path of an approaching New York City subway train, New York State gave judges the power to force the mentally ill to comply with treatment, says the New York Times. State officials say “Kendra’s Law” has been a great success, and Gov. George E. Pataki wants to make it permanent when it comes up for renewal in June. An analysis by a group that opposes its compulsory-treatment provision found that the law has been disproportionately applied to blacks.
The group, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, said that 42 percent of the 3,958 orders for treatment under the law were invoked against blacks, who make up 16 percent of the state’s population, while 34 percent of the orders applied to whites, who make up 62 percent.
Jill Daniels of the state’s Office of Mental Health said it was misleading to compare the race and ethnicity of those being treated under Kendra’s Law with the race and ethnicity of those in the general population. She said the proportions were similar to those for adults receiving intensive care in urban areas. The State Assembly is planning to hold its first hearing on the law today.