HARTFORD, Conn. — An advocacy group filed suit Thursday against Connecticut’s mental health agency alleging patients are sometimes held in restrictive settings long after they’ve demonstrated an ability to function in the community.

The class-action lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Connecticut Legal Rights Project in Middletown Superior Court also alleges that civilly committed patients are routinely denied their due process rights.

The lawsuit names the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. An agency spokeswoman referred questions to the state attorney general’s office.

“We will review the complaint and respond at the appropriate time in court,” an attorney general’s spokeswoman said.

Connecticut is one of the few states that allows for unlimited civil commitments, and patients have remained institutionalized for months or even years after they were declared ready for discharge, project Executive Director Kathleen Flaherty told the Hartford Courant .

Civil patients, as opposed to those committed by a criminal court, have the right not to be held against their will if they are deemed not to be a danger to themselves or others, she said.

Many states have a 90-day initial commitment cap, and then it’s up to the public mental health agency to seek recommitment.

The suit aims to enable civil patients to be discharged within 90 days of being declared ready and to push the state to expand its community network where residents have access to medical and mental health care.


Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com