244012 Diversion of Patients from Court Ordered Mental Health Treatment to Immigration Detention

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:50 PM

Homer D. Venters, MD , General Internal Medicine, New York University, New York, NY
Allen S. Keller, MD , NYU Medical School, New York, NY
Over 350,000 immigrants are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) each year. An unknown fraction of these detainees have significant mental illness and have been ordered to inpatient mental health care by a criminal court but are instead taken into ICE custody. This practice has been reported to us in multiple states, including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Over the past 4 years we have provided advocacy efforts in 16 of these cases (all in the NYC area) and report on our findings here. In some instances we were able to secure release of detainees into inpatient care in the community, however these efforts are accompanied by great logistical challenges. Given the well-documented concerns in securing adequate care for mentally ill ICE detainees, a logical policy change would be for ICE to allow these patients to continue to their court ordered inpatient care. This move would improve care for patients, who otherwise would be held in a jail or detention center as opposed to a dedicated mental health treatment center, and would also unburden ICE from the untenable proposition of caring for patients that the criminal justice system has already deemed unfit for incarceration.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Report the practice and consequences of diverting patients away from court ordered mental health treatment into immigration detention. 2. Introduce an alternative policy that would maintain continuity of mental health care for patients in this circumstance. 3. Discuss the policy environment for changing this practice.

Keywords: Jails and Prisons, Mental Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: i conducted the work reported here
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.