It is estimated that over 14 million
arrests take place each year, and many of those arrested are drawn into
prolonged contact with the courts, jails, prisons and community corrections. In
2004 alone, 12.6 million individuals passed through United States jails — and an
estimated 60% of people inside those jails are labeled with major mental health
disorders. In 1999, the number of people in prison with diagnosed serious
mental illness was estimated to be 280,000, prompting one researcher to refer to
prisons and jails as ‘hospitals of last resort’. Most
alarming is that national data indicate that incarcerated individuals with
mental illness tend to receive longer sentences and serve longer periods behind
bars than those without.
We will examine the unique barriers
psychiatric survivors of the criminal justice system encounter while
transitioning from correctional institutions to independent living. The
workshop will examine ways in which formerly incarcerated people have been left
out of mainstream mental health consumer movements.
The workshop will also discuss the role
criminal justice peer advocates can play in promoting self-determination and
protecting individuals from abuse and how this role is distinct from a mental
health advocate or peer specialist.
This workshop will offer a toolkit to
participants for how they can mobilize and develop peer-based training and
advocacy supports for people involved with the criminal justice system.
Participants will walk away with sample curricula, job and program descriptions,
funding ideas and tactical steps in order to replicate a successful program.
The workshop will also highlight other (and encourage participants” sharing) of
best practices to redress the lack of consumer-led advocacy, supports and
programming within jails and prisons.