NEW YORK CITY – In response to Mayor Adams’s continued call for the involuntary commitment and forcible treatment of those living with mental illness following the death of Jordan Neely, New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman issued the following statement:
“In the name of Jordan Neely, Mayor Adams is again responding to homelessness and unmet mental health need with the failed approaches of force and coercion. The mayor’s insistence on controlling those in need, instead of taking on the city’s housing crisis or lack of access to health care only fuels stigma against homeless New Yorkers and those living with mental illness. Arrest and forced hospitalization do nothing to address the root drivers of homelessness or the chronic lack of access to mental health care.
“Throughout his administration, Mayor Adams has moved to sweep homeless New Yorkers out of public view, rushing police to the subways and the streets. The mayor has done so under the guise of public safety, incorrectly linking unhoused New Yorkers and those with mental illness to an increase in crime. There is no evidence supporting Adams’ harmful and dangerous rhetoric. People with mental disability are far more often the victims of violence. This kind of stigmatization and fearmongering contributes to the victimization of people with perceived mental illness – the same that led to the killing of Jordan Neely.
“We know that forcing anyone into treatment is a recipe for failure. For more than 20 years, Kendra’s Law has denied people the fundamental right to determine the course of their medical treatment, destroying trust in providers in the process. Worse yet, Black and Brown New Yorkers are more likely to be recipients of court orders forcing treatment or medication.
“The mayor is right that there are more Jordan Neelys in our city. They deserve housing, health care, and supportive services to get back on their feet, not to be controlled, criminalized, or killed.”