National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy


Peer  Roles Re-Defined in Forensic Settings:  Potentials for Positive Collaboration Between Human Rights Attorneys, Peer Workers and People Hospitalized

Sera Davidow and Caroline White


     Historically speaking, it has been a great challenge to ensure that individuals committed to restrictive settings have both adequate access to information about their rights and the support to exercise that knowledge.  The addition of peer roles has offered some degree of improvement, but, in isolation, is insufficient to create the deep systemic changes needed to fully address this issue.  However, a unique sort of power can develop when the different styles, approaches and strengths of human rights attorneys and peer workers come together to complement one another with a shared goal of improving the lives and liberty of those hospitalized.  This workshop will speak to the wisdom gained from over two years of supporting peer roles in a mixed forensic setting, including the complexities of supporting individuals who are often committed not only on a basis of psychiatric concerns, but also the myriad of issues that arise around competency to stand trial, being labeled as "Not Guilty by reason of Insanity," forced medication and so on.  It will explore lessons learned and successes found through collaborations with Disability Law attorneys, adherence to the integrity of the peer role, and navigation of the funder system.  In particular, the workshop will focus on the critical role of mutual support between people working in peer roles and human rights attorneys in creating access to hospital units, easy-to-understand (and share) information, and safe spaces in which these issues can be discussed in an open and honest manner. 


Learning Goals and Objectives: 

1.       Participants will be able to name at least three strategies for maintaining ethics and integrity of a peer role in a highly restricted environment

2.      Participants will be able to name at least three approaches to collaboration between people in peer roles and attorneys toward creating systems change

3.      Participants will be able to name at least two possible next steps for increasing collaboration and access to peer roles and legal supports for those committed to restricted settings.


Link to brief presenter bios:

Sera Davidow

Caroline White


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