Fulton County stuck with big mental health bill – Daily Gazette

Jonestown – Since December, Fulton County taxpayers have been billed a total of $282,338 for court-ordered mental health restoration treatment for a Gloversville man deemed mentally too incapacitated to appear in court on manslaughter charges for allegedly He was responsible for the death of a 5-month-old baby.

The total cost of mental health incarceration could approach $500,000 before the county’s obligation to pay 12 months of such care expires, which would effectively wipe out the entire county, said Scott Horton, Carruga Supervisor, who chairs the county’s human services commission. . The emergency fund budget for 2022.

“We have an individual brought up for murder and the courts have determined that the individual is not mentally fit to help defend himself,” Horton said. Section 41 of the New York State Mental Health Act states that counties [must pay 100% of the cost of] Treat the individual, for up to 12 months, and that is a consecutive period, to improve the condition, so that they can participate in their own defense.”

John Stead, Fulton County Administrator, said that prior to the 2020 state budget, state policy was to split costs 50/50 with county governments to incarcerate the mental health of criminal defendants, as the court system determined that he was mentally unable to stand trial; Now the state is requiring counties to pay the bill in full for the first 12 months of treatment.

“If it lasts more than 12 months, there is a different funding program, after which it will become the responsibility of the state,” Stead said. “We usually put about $500,000 into our entire emergency fund for the whole year, and that tells you the huge impact that is happening. We hope the responsible people will take care of it. [can resolve his mental competency issues]But we have no control over that. We did not find any way to intervene or expedite his release and return him to regular custody.”

The man receiving mental health restoration treatment is Isiah L. Lockett who was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury on March 18, 2021, on 13 different counts, including manslaughter of a 5-month-old child who died on August 7, 2020.

The charges against Lockett stem from an investigation that began on August 4, 2020, when Gloversville police learned that three children living on 17 First Ave had been injured. , Gloversville. The children were then 6, 8 and 5 months old. Three days after the investigation began, the five-month-old baby died. An autopsy was performed and the investigation continued with the help of the New York State Police Major Crimes Unit, which then presented its findings to the grand jury that indicted Lockett.

The charges he faces in connection with the 5-month-old’s death include first- and second-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, all felonies, and one misdemeanor. Counting is endangering the child’s well-being. The other charges against him relate to assaulting and reckless endangerment of the other two children.

During the trial, Lockett’s defense attorney Kyle Davis requested that his client’s mental health be evaluated under New York State Criminal Procedure Code 730, which sets out a process for determining whether a criminal defendant is a disabled person who lacks the ability to understand the actions taken against him. As a result of mental illness.

In accordance with state law, Lockett was evaluated by two psychiatrists and the results of those assessments were presented during a court hearing. At the time, Fulton County Family Court Judge Michael Smertke ordered Lockett to receive mental health restoration therapy for up to one year with the goal: to help make him eligible for trial.

Acting Fulton District Attorney Amanda Nellis said in such cases, it is usual for an individual to receive, at least, a full 12 months of restoration treatment before being re-evaluated to determine if the person can appear in court. The only thing the attorney general’s office can do now, Nellis said, is wait.

“That’s all we can do at this point,” she said.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors is set to vote Monday on the final monthly cost of the court ordering mental health recovery therapy, $42,729 for June.

These are the other monthly mental health recovery treatment fees that the county board of supervisors have already agreed to pay for Lockett:

• May: $44,153

• April: $42,729

• March: $44,153

• February: $39,880

• January: $44,153

• December 2021: $24,538

Horton said he believes it is wrong for New York state to require counties to pay 100% of the court treatment bill to restore mental status, and he wonders how much the mandates cost counties in total across New York state.

“It’s not funded at all,” Horton said. “The county has written letters to our representatives without any response, which I think is a real farce.”

Stead said he can’t recall another case of mental health incarceration that has cost Fulton County like Lockett’s recovery treatment, but that’s mainly because the county’s share in the past was only 50% for such treatments.

“We may have had two of those over the past few decades, but it hasn’t happened over the several consecutive months, and because it was a 50/50 share, it didn’t have much of a monetary impact,” he said. “Right now we have one person in that category, but there is no guarantee in the future that we will only have one at a time. There could be three different cases with three different accusers ordered with that kind of commitment. Think how much.”

While Stead knows that New York State’s District Assembly has called for the state to reimburse at least 50 percent for the costs of these mental health commitments, the organization has so far had no luck getting the state to restore its pre-2020 funding formula.

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