RBGG’s Michael Bien provided background and a quote for a major New York Times Magazine investigative piece, When “Not Guilty” is a Life Sentence, that was published on September 27, 2017.  The Times asks, “What happens after a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity?  Often the answer is involuntary confinement in a state psychiatric hospital – with no end in sight.”

According to the Times: “In 1992 the Supreme Court ruled in Foucha v. Louisiana that a forensic patient must be both mentally ill and dangerous in order to be hospitalized against his will.  But in practice, “States have ignored Foucha to a pretty substantial degree,” says W. Lawrence Fitch, a consultant to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors . . . Michael Bien, a lawyer who helped bring a successful lawsuit against the California prison system on behalf of prisoners with psychiatric illnesses, concurs.  “Under constitutional law they’re supposed to be incarcerated only if they’re getting treatment and only if the treatment is likely to restore sanity,” he says.  “You can’t just punish someone for having mental illness.  But that’s happening.””