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Beyond the Asylum and the Jail: Mental Illness Forum - Protecting and treating those destabilized by mental illness

Date: 05/12/2008
Contact: Mark Wheeler ()
Phone: 310-794-2265

The media frenzy that surrounded the involuntary commitment of a certain celebrity singer a few months back brought to the American consciousness the concept of a 72-hour involuntary hold and the designation 5150 for an additional two week hold. On May 27, mental health experts and legal scholars will discuss how to fix a law that has backfired, as countless individuals suffering from mental illness have ended up as criminals in our legal system without justice, or treatment.

California's 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) was intended to "end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of mentally disordered persons." Despite its noble objectives, the law has lead to many unforeseen consequences, moving the seriously mentally ill from state hospitals to the streets and to prisons-indeed, today, the Los Angeles County Jail is the nation's largest mental institution.

Symposium panelists will specifically look at ways in which the law can and should be changed. They will discuss the challenges and innovations taking place today around interventions for those with severe mental illness, and share their vision for creating a new safety-net to prevent homelessness and the criminalization of those destabilized by mental illness. Join us for this full-day symposium to identify emerging pathways of legal, clinical, and policy innovation. Speakers will include:

     Dr. Peter Whybrow, Physician-in-Chief of the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital and Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA;
     Dr. Paul Applebaum, Elizabeth Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, Columbia University School of Medicine, an internationally renowned scholar of law and psychiatry;
     Pete Earley, Author, Crazy, A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for general nonfiction in 2007;
     Jonathan Simon, associate dean, and Professor of Law; University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He will address the governance of persons with mental illness within the criminal justice system, and in jails and prisons.
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The forum will take place on Tuesday, May 27, from 9:00-5:00 p.m., at both the UCLA Semel Institute Auditorium and UC Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium. The speakers and panels will be video-conference live between Berkeley and Los Angeles, and the symposium will be digitally recorded and made available online for video streaming and podcasting. The event is free. Parking on the UCLA campus is $8.

For an agenda, speakers list, and registration, visit www.mentalhealthlawsymposium.com. Continuing education credits are available for physicians, psychologists, and LSCWs. This program is co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley School of Law, UCLA Semel Institute, and the San Francisco Foundation. 

Media contact: Mark Wheeler, 310-794-2265; mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu