Press Release

May 16-17: Drug Policy Alliance Conference & Workshop Series in San Francisco on Alternatives to Coercion in Drug Treatment & Mental Health Settings

“Coercive Treatment – Moving Beyond ‘For Your Own Good’” Will Feature National Leaders in Drug Policy, Harm Reduction, Mental Health, & Disability Rights

Jag Davies 212-613-8035
Katharine Celentano 607-288-3857

Despite strong public and scientific support for reducing the role of criminalization in drug policy, harmful and coercive drug addiction treatment interventions – such as forced detox, civil commitment, and drug and other treatment courts – are proliferating.

Coercive Treatment – Moving Beyond ‘For Your Own Good’ will unite national leaders from the drug policy, harm reduction, mental health, and disability rights movements to bring forth an intersectional analysis of coercive treatment and institutionalization. This first-of-its-kind event will unpack the history of coercion and the ways that racism, stigmatization, paternalism, ableism, and profit drive the use of force against people who use drugs, people diagnosed with mental illness, and disabled people.

“Today’s ‘treatment’ facilities too often mirror the cruelty of prisons and the asylum, with little regard for the scientific evidence about what works,” said Katharine Celentano, policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The same indignities associated with criminalization are too often reproduced by public health and treatment interventions that fail to prioritize consent. This moment in history calls for patient- and rights-centered alternatives grounded in science that prioritize health and human dignity.”

Conference: Thursday May 16, 8:30am-5:40pm | RSVP here for May 16 conference
Workshops: Friday May 17, 8:30am-1pm | RSVP here for May 17 workshops

Where: UC Hastings College of Law, 198 McAllister Street, San Francisco

Speakers and Presenters:

  • Ari Ne’eman, ACLU
  • Maia Szalavitz, neuroscience journalist
  • 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
  • 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, author of Judging Addicts
  • 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
  • Sera Davidow, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community and Hearing Voices USA
  • Patt Denning, Center for Harm Reduction Therapy
  • Leah Warner, San Francisco Homeless Outreach Project
  • Wilda White, Vermont Mental Health Crisis Response Commission
  • Sterling Johnson, ACT UP Philadelphia
  • Caroline Mazel-White, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community and Hearing Voices USA
  • Marty Hadge, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community and Hearing Voices USA

Conference Partners include: A New Path/Moms United, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Broken No More, The Center for Harm Reduction Therapy, Community Access, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Families for Sensible Drug Policy, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, Harm Reduction Coalition, Hearing Voices Network USA, 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, 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, Truth Pharm, Voluntary Services Coalition, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, Young Women’s Freedom Center, Survivors of Institutional Abuse

Drug Treatment