Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates
Michael L. Perlin & Heather Ellis Cucolo


In Pictures and Print


Featured Media

Featuring some of MDLPA's owners and associates in their accomplishments and work


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Heather receiving the 2018 New York Law School prestigious Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award for her and Michael's book, Shaming the Constitution: The Detrimental Results of Sexual Violent Predator Legislation.


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Michael quoted in a New York Times featured article looking at what happens after a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity: When ‘Not Guilty’ Is a Life Sentence

After 45 years of studying the issue and filing lawsuits on behalf of patients, Michael Perlin, an emeritus professor at New York Law School and an expert on mental-disability law, thinks he knows why: “Everybody except for people who take the Constitution seriously and people who are in the hospital are happy the patients are there. Prosecutors, police, they’re glad they’re not going anywhere. I believe that the disability rights community has never gotten substantially involved in the issue because some of the people have been charged with very horrific crimes.” As he put it: “This is an area that everybody kind of wishes would go away.


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Heather quoted in a Law and Crime discussion of mental illness and dangerousness, Trump Shows Utter Cluelessness About Mental Illness, Says He Wants to ‘Nab’ People, Throw Them in Institutions

“Reactionary laws and legislation — such as the one President Trump is suggesting — ignore statistical data and expert consensus regarding the mentally ill and propensity for violence. Mentally ill individuals are an easy population to target and use as scapegoats to distract from the necessary discussion that our president refuses to significantly engage in –  gun control."


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Michael talks about why the guilty but mentally ill verdict is a counterproductive charade in this NPR podcast at 13 minutes in.


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Michael's work highlighted in a Huffington Post blog. In “The Promises of Paradise”, Mental Health Law and Disability Rights Professor Michael L. Perlin pondered the potential reach of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead as to enhanced legal rights to least restrictive placement under the law. Moreover, the Olmstead decision and its enforcement has been translated by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division into a consumer friendly guide of frequently asked questions. A document, which if utilized and embraced has the potential to raise awareness and usher in a new paradigm of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A paradigm where human services, mental health and public health treatment and service planning and implementation takes on a new energy and urgency. Where solving vexing social and population health problems can such as, homelessness and the criminalization of people with mental illness and substance use disorders becomes more than aspirational policy goals - cultural change can become activated and achieved, as a matter of law.


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Heather quoted in a Bloomberg news article: Sex Offender Registration: Driven by Fear or Real Risk?

"Rather than branding an individual with 'a scarlet letter for life,' Cucolo said the system should focus on comprehensive treatment involving mental health counseling, education, and community support. She said the best way to prevent crime is raising awareness in schools. Such an education program should involve awareness of who statistically commits sexual crimes against children, but intervening and supporting children in peril of entering a life of crime to begin with, Cucolo said. Better education for lawmakers and those working in the system would lead to better regulation and precedence as well, she added."


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Michael discusses the state of mental disability law in the early 1970’s and the conditions at Greystone Hospital before and at the time that the Doe vs. Klein case was filed, and contextualizes Doe with other mental disability law reform litigation in NJ and elsewhere. Greystone Oral Histories


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Heather as a panelist for the WEA Disabilities in the Post 2015 Development Agenda in preparation for the United Nation’s High Level meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development, Developing a Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific (New York, NY August 2013).

The panelists included Ambassador Emvula from the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the UN, Mr. Richard Morgan, Senior Advisor on the Post 2015 Development Agenda at the United Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Professor Heather Cucolo from New York Law School and Mrs. Venus Ilagan, Secretary General of Rehabilitation International.


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Michael discussing the case that led to the creation of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in New Jersey -- A man who was locked up in his cell for 27 years awaiting trial on a charge for which he was innocent.  SpringerNature Before the Abstract series (American Society of Criminology, New Orleans, 2016)


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