City Reclaims Mental Health System

Thursday, May 30, 2002; 12:00 AM

A federal judge has terminated the receivership that had controlled the District's mental health system since 1997.

In a decision released late last week, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ended the receivership after the transitional receiver, Dennis R. Jones, presented evidence of progress in several areas, including the creation last year of the D.C. Department of Mental Health, federal approval of a new funding model to pay for community-based services, and plans to build a smaller facility on the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Jones will now serve as a court-appointed monitor overseeing the new agency's progress.

The ruling does not yet spell an end to the 1974 class-action lawsuit that prompted Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. to seize control of the District's mental health system in 1997.

To exit the lawsuit, now known as Dixon v. Williams, the city will have to meet specific performance measures. Johnson set a Sept. 5 court date for the first post-receivership progress report.

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