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The New Asylums: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

The New Asylums: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System  

February 17, 2016  @ 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. ~ Center for Multicultural Education, Maucker Union, UNI

Nearly 500,000 mentally ill men and women are serving time in U. S. jails and prisons, while fewer than 55,000 Americans currently receive treatment in psychiatric hospitals, according to Frontline producers Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor who observe, “As sheriffs and prison wardens become the unexpected and often ill-equipped caretakers of this burgeoning population, they raise a troubling new concern: Have America's jails and prisons become its new asylums?”  What challenges are faced by people with mental illness who are caught up in the criminal justice system, from arrest through re-entry?  What challenges face staff within the criminal justice and mental health systems?  And when they are released from prison, what options exist for offenders who are mentally ill?

Rod Library and Student Disability Services are hosting the second in a series of films and discussions surrounding disability as a social justice issue.  Join us as UNI Social Work professor Dr. Steven Onken facilitates an audience discussion with panelists from the local mental health and criminal justice systems.  Panelists include Al Hays (UNI Emeritus Professor in Public Policy), Thomas Eachus (UnityPoint/Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health Center  https://www.unitypoint.org/waterloo/mental-health.aspx), Marvin Spencer (First Judicial District Dept. of Correctional Services  www.firstdcs.com/), and Lacey Combs (UNI MSW student interning at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women).  We will explore the problem and possibilities for change.  Excerpts from “The Released” video will be shown that contain some graphic language and imagery. 

For more information on the Disability Justice: Past, Present, Future series follow Student Disability Services and/or Rod Library on Facebook.  

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UNI-sponsored events.  If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Susan Basye, Rod Library, at 319/273-2737 or susan.basye@uni.edu at least one week prior to the event.


Sponsored by Rod Library, Student Disability Services, and Reaching for Higher Ground.



Barb Weeg

Rod Library



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