Calls for more treatment funding, or “treatment instead of incarceration,” are common in the drug policy, mental health, recovery, criminal justice, and disability spaces. The same indignities and negative consequences commonly associated with criminalization, however, can also be reproduced by public health and treatment interventions that fail to prioritize consent. Indeed, even as we begin to move away from harsh criminal penalties for drug use and possession, coercive drug addiction treatment, fueled by racism, stigmatization, paternalism, ableism, and profit, is on the upswing. Forced detox, civil commitment, and drug and other treatment courts are proliferating with wide public and government support, despite a myriad of negative consequences for both individuals and society. The fact that many “treatment” facilities mirror prisons and asylums appears to be going totally unnoticed or is dismissed. This conference will bring together experts by practice, study, and lived experience to shine a light on the history of coercion, the various forms coercion can take and how it is manifesting in the political moment, including who is subject to coercion, why coercion is harmful, and the importance of creating patient- and rights-centered alternatives.
*Follow this link to register for the workshops on day two: bit.ly/beyondforyourowngoodworkshop
Day One—Full Day Conference (Thursday, May 16)
8:30 – 9:00 am | Registration and Breakfast
9:00 – 9:15 am | Welcome
9:15 – 10:00 am | Keynote(s): How Did We Get Here?—A Historical Perspective of Coerced Treatment in the U.S
The speaker(s) will provide an overview of the drug war and the institutionalization of disabled people, particularly those diagnosed with various behavioral health conditions. They will explore the ways in which the institutionalization framework set the stage for the mass imprisonment of people who use drugs as well as coerced drug treatment. The speaker(s) will explore the history of asylums in the United States and their conversion into correctional and drug treatment facilities, the impact of deinstitutionalization, and how drug war proponents and the treatment system alike capitalized on stereotypes of race, class, and mental health to push policies and profit incentives to warehouse and otherwise control so-called “social deviants.”
Ari Ne'eman, ACLU
Maia Szalavitz, Journalist and Author
10:00 – 11:30 am | Panel 1: The Spectrum of Coercion—Manifestations of Coercive Treatment for People Who Use Drugs
Panelists will unpack the current scope of forced drug addiction treatment, the various ways it manifests, and the underlying dynamics that allow coercive policies to continue to flourish. Panelists will explore the expansion of civil commitment, drug treatment courts, conservatorship, the emerging use of extended release and injectable opioid addiction treatment medications in coercive environments, and forced detoxification as well as the coercive factors at play even in “voluntary” settings such as residential rehabilitation facilities and outpatient care. Finally, the pro-institutionalization currents in the national landscape, including erosion of privacy and patient rights, will be examined.
Leo Beletsky, Health in Justice Action Lab
Jennifer Friedenbach, Coalition on Homelessness
Bethany Lilly, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Shain Neumeier, Attorney at Law
Denise Tomasini-Joshi, Open Society Foundations
11:30 – 11:45 am | BREAK
11:45 am – 1:15 pm | Panel 2: Drivers of Coercion—Vulnerable Populations, Stigmatization, and Economics
Panelists will review how certain populations diagnosed with substance use disorder and/or mental health conditions, including people of color, youth, people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQIA people, and trans people are particularly vulnerable to coercion in its many different forms. Panelists will also explore the narratives connecting these marginalized populations to violence, dishonesty, and lack of autonomy. They will discuss the stigmatization that undergirds popular perception that coercion and forced treatment are an appropriate response to the perceived harms that stem from addiction and mental health conditions. The economic drivers of coerced treatment, including fiscal incentives related to courtordered and private pay care, and the cooption of the treatment system by the criminal justice system will be also be discussed by panelists.
Erin Kerrison, Berkeley Social Welfare
Talila A. Lewis, Harriet Tubman Collective and Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities
Jennifer Murphy, Penn State Berks
Rebecca Tiger, Middlebury College
1:15 – 2:00 pm | LUNCH
2:00 – 3:30 pm | Panel 3: Impact of Coercion—Research and Lived Experience
Researchers and survivors of coerced treatment will discuss the various impacts of coercion. Is coerced treatment effective? If so, by what measures and for whom? Panelists will nuance our interpretation of the research, unpack the meaning of “evidence-based,” and explore various consequences of forced treatment related to trauma, disengagement with the health care system, family, finances, and housing. Lastly, this panel will elevate the stories of people with lived experiences of drug use or psychiatric diagnoses who were coerced into treatment in order to illuminate how we define harm and its root causes and what harms actually need to be reduced.
Imade Borha, Mental Health Association of San Francisco and Depressed While Black
Cyndy Etler, Author
Teresa Gowan, University of Minnesota
David Lucas, Center for Court Innovation
Dinah Ortiz-Adams, Bronx Defenders
3:30 – 3:45 pm | BREAK
3:45 – 5:15 pm | Panel 4: Beyond Coercion—Where Do We Go From Here?
As we move away from the criminalization of drugs and toward the removal of criminal penalties for drug use and possession, how can we ensure that people are not merely transferred from jail and prison to forced detox, treatment centers, or other coercive interventions? Panelists will explore lessons learned from historical and parallel movements in the mental health and disability spaces that could be applied to drug use and drug treatment, including how we can begin the shift the narrative. Panelists will also elevate truly voluntary, people-centered alternatives to coerced treatment such as supported housing and harm reduction measures, including safer consumption spaces, low-threshold, on-demand buprenorphine, Soteria houses, and peer respites.
Sera Davidow, Western Mass RLC
Patt Denning, Center for Harm Reduction Therapy
Leah Warner, San Francisco Homeless Outreach Project
Wilda White, Vermont Mental Health Crisis Response Commission
Moderator: Charles Hawthorne, Harm Reduction Coalition
5:15 – 5:30 pm | Closing: Networking Reception
Day Two—Half Day Workshops (Friday, May 17)
*Click this link to register for the workshops on day two: bit.ly/beyondforyourowngoodworkshop
8:30 – 9:00 am | Registration and Breakfast
9:00 – 10:15 am | Conservatorship and San Francisco organizing
This breakout will provide a space for people interested in exploring a case study—pending California legislation related to conservatorship and other measures of forced care—to brainstorm practical strategies for building community and effectively pushing back against coerced treatment policies.
10:15 - 10:25 am | BREAK
10:25 – 11:40 am | Alternatives to Suicide: Mental Health Harm Reduction in the Drug Harm Reduction Setting
This training, provided by Western Mass RLC, empowers providers and peers to support people experiencing thoughts of self-harm within a harm reduction drug framework, such as syringe exchange programs. Participants will walk away with concrete skills to apply to their day-to-day work.
11:40 – 11:45 am | BREAK
11:45 – 1:00 pm Facilitated Group Discussion Over Brown Bag Lunch
This moderated discussion session is an opportunity to build community across disciplines— harm reduction, mental health, disability, and others—to discuss points of similarity and difference, to identify common goals, interests, and areas for future collaboration, to explore troubling or exciting trends, and to learn from each other.
Facilitator: Sterling Johnson, ACT UP Philadelphia
The conference and workshops are wheelchair accessible and will take place at UC Hastings College of Law. ASL interpretation will be provided for day one of the conference. If you require ASL interpretation for the day of workshops, please contact us so that we can provide it. To respect people with allergies or environmental sensitivities, please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. There will be at least one all-gender bathroom in the building. Accessible parking spaces are available in the paid parking garage on 376 Larkin Street. There are a limited number of free, all-day wheelchair accessible on-street parking spots. To request an accommodation or to inquire about accessibility, please reply to the order confirmation, email [email protected], or call Aliza Cohen at 212.613.8055.
Partners: A New PATH/Moms United, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Berkeley School of Social Welfare, Broken No More, The Center for Harm Reduction Therapy, Community Access, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Disability Visibility Project, Families for Sensible Drug Policy, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, Harm Reduction Coalition, Hearing Voices Network USA, International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis - U.S. Chapter, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Madness Radio, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, Open Society Foundations, Portland Hearing Voices, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco Public Defender, San Francisco Taxpayers for Public Safety, Senior and Disability Action, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Survivors of Institutional Abuse, Truth Pharm, Voluntary Services Coalition, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, Young Women’s Freedom Center