Feds to investigate treatment of Louisville people with mental illness

The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into how people with serious mental illness are treated in the metro Louisville area and whether they are subject to excessive institutionalization in psychiatric hospitals or other facilities.

The investigation, announced Tuesday in a news release, is separate from an ongoing Justice Department probe of practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department triggered by the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, fatally shot by police attempting to serve a search warrant.

Rather, the new investigation is aimed specifically at services the state provides for people with serious mental illness and whether such treatment “unnecessarily segregates” such individuals from other mental health services.

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“When people do not receive the community-based mental health services they need, they often get caught in a cycle of psychiatric hospital stays,” said Kristen Clarke, an assistant attorney general with the Justice Department.