Jail and Prison Advocacy Project Objectives and Priorities 2014
MISSION: The DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project is an outgrowth of ULS’ PAIMI Program, but funded separately through private foundation grants to assist DC residents with mental illness in the DC Jail or Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) system with legal advocacy to help prepare them for their reentry back into the community. Our goal is to redress abuse, neglect and discrimination that lead to excessive incarceration and pose barriers to successful reentry for DC residents with mental illness.
PRIORITY ONE: Provide direct advocacy services for people with mental illness preparing to transition home from the DC Jail or federal prisons and seeking social integration, access to healthcare and support for their major needs.
- Advocate for appropriate services and inclusion in the community for individuals returning to DC from the DC Jail or federal prison with priority to individuals exiting from prison straight to the streets.
- Promote full accessibility of recovery programs, housing, community corrections, and other government-funded programs for people with psychiatric disabilities and challenge delay or denial in services due to their disabilities.
- Investigate abuse and neglect complaints where there is probable cause to suspect abuse or neglect inside correctional facilities against people with mental illness.
- Advocate for the Department of Behavioral Health and DC Medicaid to honor returning citizens’ self-determination and consumer choice and provide quality services and supports.
- Work through parole and criminal defense sentencing mitigation to ensure access by people with psychiatric disabilities to services in the most integrated community settings.
- Advocate against the improper use of seclusion, restraint, and medication at facilities where DC residents with mental illness receive services.
- Strengthen self-advocacy and social integration after reentry through peer-based outreach and support.
PRIORITY TWO: Advance public awareness through direct advocacy and public education through the following objectives:
- Provide outreach and education to administrative and policy-making bodies, advocates, and service providers to promote self-determination, consumer choice, incorporation of best practices and high quality services in the least restrictive environment.
- Conduct workshops on the above topics by training individuals including mental health clinicians, correctional staff, parole officers/examiners/commissioners, defense attorneys, and other advocates.
- Provide outreach and education to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated DC residents to promote their self-determination, self-advocacy, knowledge of resources and legal rights and autonomy in developing self-directed treatment and living opportunities.
- Meet individually with men and women to provide educational resources and assist with making referrals and service connection to other agencies.
- Conduct outreach and education sessions for people receiving mental health treatment inside correctional facilities.
- Train incarcerated or formerly incarcerated workshop participants on health and disability rights and effective transition planning.
PRIORITY THREE: Advance systemic reform and leverage local governmental commitments to implement a public health model which provides for continuity of care and services with transparency and human rights and public health protections.
ULS aims to alter the policies and practices that are the source of the disproportionately high number of people with psychiatric disabilities behind bars. To that end, we will continue to partner with both public and private agencies to meet the following objectives:
- Challenge the community’s reliance on incarceration, particularly in response to technical violations of community supervision.
- Promote the inclusion of evidence-based treatment practices including Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and trauma-informed care within correctional and community services for individuals who have experienced traumatic events.
- Improve discharge planning procedures at FBOP facilities and the DC Jail.
- Convene meetings and forums to promote policies and practices to prepare pre-release applications and expedite access to social security benefits for incarcerated individuals with disabilities.
- Promote APIC-based assessments of DC residents’ community care needs prior to release.
- Advocate for independent living options for people with mental illness who need low-income housing and services and supports upon their return to the community.
Case Selection Criteria
The DC Jail & Prison Advocacy Project serves DC residents who meet all the following criteria:
- Have a significant mental illness or emotional impairment as determined by a mental health professional;
- Are or were incarcerated at the DC Jail, Correctional Treatment Facility, or within the FBOP (including Residential Reentry Centers, i.e., “halfway houses”) and
- Are within 90 days of discharge back to DC and request assistance for problems that fall within the priorities listed above.
While we recognize that every situation is important, please note case acceptance is dependent upon available resources, including staff time. If your case is not accepted and you wish to file a grievance, submit your grievance in writing to the Executive Director. The Executive Director shall respond to any client grievance in writing within thirty days of receipt. A client may appeal the Executive Director’s decision to the ULS Board of Directors within ten days of the written decision of the Executive Director. The decision of the ULS Board of Directors shall be final and not subject to further appeal or review.
Jane Brown, Executive Director
University Legal Services
220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-0198 Phone
(202) 547-2662 Fax
(202) 547-2657 TTY