After Subway Shoving, Officials Look to Expand State Laws on Mandatory Treatment for Mental Illness
*Reposted from Gotham Gazette. Written by Samar Khurshid (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office) *
In January 1999, Kendra Webdale, a 32-year-old writer, was pushed to her death into the path of an oncoming N train by a schizophrenic man. Webdale’s death prompted the passage of the eponymously named Kendra’s Law, which allows courts to order a person to receive supervised mental health treatment, also known as assisted outpatient treatment, failing which they can be temporarily committed to a hospital.
Twenty-three years later, the killing of 40-year-old Michelle Go in eerily similar circumstances is now prompting calls from elected officials to strengthen the law.
Go was fatally struck by an A train after being shoved onto the tracks at the Times Square subway station by Martial Simon, 61, who has a long history of dealing with schizophrenia. Doctors attempted in 2009 to require Simon to participate in assisted outpatient treatment, The New York Times reported.
In the weeks since Go’s death, Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed an extension and expansion of Kendra’s Law in her executive budget proposal. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has similarly advocated for strengthening it and called on judges to utilize it more often, though that typically relies on them being petitioned by an eligible stakeholder.
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