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Advocates for the mentally ill won a key victory April 18 when the New York Supreme Court denied the city’s motion to exempt some of New York’s most severely mentally ill inmates from a legal settlement known as “Brad H.” The original suit, filed on behalf of a homeless man incarcerated 26 times and institutionalized periodically throughout his life, ordered the city to provide discharge planning for mentally ill inmates. All inmates who receive mental health care are now entitled to a summary of his or her diagnosis, an assessment of the services they need, and the provision of those services once they are released. In a motion filed in October 2004, before Supreme Court Judge Richard Braun, the city said inmates housed at Bellevue, Kings County and Elmhurst Hospitals should not be included under the terms of the court order, because the hospitals did not count as city jails. But Judge Braun found that, as the three hospitals are operated by one of the five defendants in the case – the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation —the inmates who reside in them are afforded the same rights under the settlement as inmates in jails. “I am so happy that the judge saw that we were right,” said Jennifer Parish, director of criminal justice advocacy at the Urban Justice Center, one of the groups that filed Brad H. “These are the people most in need.” (D. Bell)

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