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DOJ opens civil rights probe into Kentucky's mental health services system

Officials will investigate whether the state subjects those with serious mental illnesses to unnecessary institutionalization.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Louisville’s mental health service system.

The investigation was opened under the Americans with Disabilities Act into whether the state subjects adults with serious mental illness living in Jefferson County to unnecessary institutionalization and serious risk of institutionalization in psychiatric hospitals.

The DOJ said if the county does not have enough community-based services, it could lead to segregating people into psychiatric hospitals and putting in risk of legal trouble.

“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 ADA so that people with disabilities are able to receive the services they need and qualify for, and that their civil rights are protected.”

Officials also state that this is a different investigation from the one looking into LMPD’s response to people with behavioral health crisis.

The DOJ did say they informed the offices of Gov. Andy Beshear and attorney general Daniel Cameron of the investigation’s initiation.

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