NYSPA Letter Expresses Concerns About Justice Center Investigations

Last week, NYSPA sent a letter to Jeff Wise, Executive Director of the NYS Justice Center, expressing concerns raised by psychiatrists regarding the manner in which Justice Center investigations are conducted. Many NYSPA members work in facilities under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center, including inpatient psychiatric units in general hospitals, CPEPs and outpatient mental health clinics. We identified the following issues of concern:

  • Legal Representation.  NYSPA has received reports that Justice Center investigators routinely advise individuals being questioned during investigations that they are not entitled to the assistance of legal counsel when being interviewed and threatened them that if they persisted the would be charged with obstructing a Justice Center investigation. NYSPA demanded that the Justice Center cease this practice. 

  • Clinical Decisions.  NYSPA has received reports that Justice Center investigators, most with only law enforcement backgrounds, are conducting investigations regarding issues of medical care and treatment including use of restraints and psychotropic medication. NYSPA suggested that, when an incident under investigation involves a question regarding psychiatric care and treatment, the Justice Center first consult with its Medical Review Board regarding the care and treatment before pursuing the investigation.

  • Multiple Baseless Complaints.  Certain patients in OMH facilities have learned that the Justice Center will conduct a full investigation of every complaint filed (even when it appears baseless on its face) and thus, have begun filing multiple complaints. NYSPA suggested that the Justice Center develop a protocol for responding to filing by the same patient of multiple false reports and/or repeated baseless complaints. 

The NYSPA letter was also forwarded to Ann Sullivan, M.D., OMH Commissioner, and Paul Francis, Deputy Secretary for Health & Human Services. 

A copy of our letter may be viewed by clicking here.