Federal civil rights investigation opened into Kentucky's mental health system

The Justice Department is investigating whether Kentucky unnecessarily institutionalizes and segregates Louisville-area adults with serious mental illness in psychiatric hospitals and places them at risk of police encounters, the department said May 24.

"When people do not receive the community-based mental health services they need, they often get caught in a cycle of psychiatric hospital stays," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "This investigation also seeks to ensure that people with serious mental illness are not unnecessarily brought into contact with law enforcement. The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing the [Americans with Disabilities Act] so that people with disabilities are able to receive the services they need and qualify for, and that their civil rights are protected." 

The investigation is separate from the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into the Louisville and Jefferson County metro government and the Louisville Metro Police Department regarding responses to people suffering behavioral health crises, the department said.

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