Policy Documents

We've Tried Mandatory Treatment--and it works

E. Fuller Torrey and Mary T. Zdanowicz –
June 1, 1999

In this article, the authors discuss a legislative proposal by then State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 1999, known as "Kendra's Law" after Kendra Webdale was pushed to her death in a New York subway by a man suffering from untreated schizophrenia.  This law follows suit after 40 other states adopted a similar law which allow the courts to mandate involuntary hospitalization for the seriously mentally ill who refuse medication/treatment, in an attempt to prevent serious and/or fatal injury to others.   However, this is not without opposition with the Civil Liberties Union and it's Lobbyists at the top of the list, arguing that it violates an individual's right to autonomy, as well as, mental health professionals who fear that it presents a stigmatism upon the mentally ill thus labeling them all violent.