New York — A year-long investigation by The New York Times found major failures in the systems used to treat people with severe mental illness in New York City and New York state.
An in-depth investigation by The New York Times found nearly 100 cases over the past decade in which a person had contact with social services before a violent incident.
In late 2021, CBS New York investigated several random violent attacks involving suspects with a history of mental illness. Not allowing suspects to receive treatment is detrimental to them and to public safety.
Shoshanna Johnson’s father tells CNN he’s trying to help after a Bronx judge ordered his daughter to receive mental health treatment rather than go to jail. She was arrested for pushing a 2-year-old girl, punching a passerby in the face, and possessing and selling cocaine.
Two years later, New York Times investigative reporter Jane Ransom interviewed her.
“She did not comply with the plan. She left immediately and ended up with another charge and was rearrested and placed on Rikers Island,” Ransom said.
Johnson was one of 94 cases over the past decade that Ransom and investigative reporter Amy Julia Harris found in which the city’s social safety net collapsed before violence occurred.
They found Johnson had been discharged from a public hospital’s psychiatric unit days before he pushed the baby and suffered a psychotic episode.
“For example, the public hospital system treats nearly 50,000 psychiatric patients each year, and emergency rooms are overwhelmed with patients. This is often the result of cuts to psychiatric beds in New York’s private hospitals,” Harris said.
Harris said the beds are not profitable.
“This started over 50 years ago when they made the disastrous decision to empty out mental institutions and return people to the community. But they didn’t provide the appropriate support for that movement,” said Bob, the agency’s deputy commissioner. Bob Mascali said. Department of Homeless Services from 1999 to 2005.
The lengthy report details a lack of communication between street outreach teams, homeless shelters and hospitals. That’s partly because outreach workers are underfunded and lack training, the Times reported.
“They’re understaffed, overworked, and stretched thin, so they often struggle to keep up with population growth,” Ransom said.
“For example, we found that in the shelter system, New York City has spent all this money in recent years, more than $1 billion, to create mental health shelters. But that’s not providing for the frontline workers who send people to these shelters. Providing the right tools to help and even identify if people are suffering from mental illness,” Harris said.
CNN reached out to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office for comment but did not receive a response. Mayor Eric Adams’ office referred us to Brian Stettin, the Mayor’s Senior Advisor on Serious Mental Illness.
“By improving coordination with MTA and state partners, investing in the continuum of care, enhancing training for first responders and clinicians, and by bringing more psychiatric beds online,” Stedding writes in the book. More people are getting the help they need.” Part on X.
Stettin said he and the city’s health commissioner were interviewed by The Times for the story but did not publish the article.