Civil Commitment

Our Subject is Civil Commitment

November 7 & 8, 2022
Download – Full Conference Program

Keynote by Paul S. Appelbaum, MD

“Understanding Civil Commitment: An Historical Approach”

Paul S. Appelbaum, MD, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, and Director, Division of Law, Ethics and Psychiatry at Columbia, was previously A.F. Zeleznik Distinguished Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry; and Director, Law and Psychiatry Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Appelbaum is the author of many articles and books on law and ethics in clinical practice. Dr. Appelbaum is Past President of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, and has twice served as Chair of the Council on Psychiatry and Law and of the Committee on Judicial Action for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). 

More about Paul S. Appelbaum, MD.

Keynote by Sarah Y. Vinson, MD

“Social (In)Justice and Civil Commitment”

Dr. Sarah Y. Vinson is a triple board-certified Child & Adolescent, Adult and Forensic Psychiatrist. She is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Lorio Forensics, a multidisciplinary forensic mental health consultation company, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and the Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Vinson is a national thought leader regarding the intersections of social justice, criminal justice and mental health. She is on the boards of the American Association of Community Psychiatry and of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. She serves as one of two Psychiatry Advisors for the Judges Psychiatry Leadership Initiative. She is the co-editor of Social (In)Justice and Mental Health, which has been for training curricula in psychiatry programs throughout the country, and led to Dr. Vinson and her Co-Editor Dr. Ruth Shim being awarded the Creative Scholarship Award from the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. She has written book chapters and/or peer reviewed articles on the social determinants of children’s mental health, child trauma, social media and children’s mental health, fostering resilience, the criminalization of mental illness, and the school to prison pipeline.

More about Sarah Y. Vinson, MD

Nev Jones, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

“Coercion & Psychosis: Transforming the Status Quo”

Dr. Nev Jones is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh and interdisciplinary mental health services researcher and activist-scholar with formal training in social and political philosophy, community psychology and medical anthropology. Much of her work focuses on improving services and outcomes in the context of psychosis and her research is or has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and National Institute of Disability, Independent Living & Rehabilitation Research. She has direct personal experience of schizophrenia, co-founded both Chicago Hearing Voices and the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network & and has done extensive training and consulting focused on improving the way providers and systems engage with experiences falling under the psychosis umbrella.

DOWNLOAD – PowerPoint presentation for this session


Angela Smith, DNAP, CRNA
filmmaker and historian

“He Never Came Home: The Tragic Story of Lemon Howard”

Dr. Smith is a native of Frierson, Louisiana. She attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship and later joined the school’s Army ROTC program. She became the university’s first Army ROTC cadet to receive a commission in the Army Nurse Corps and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves in 2017. Dr. Smith is a practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree from Texas Wesleyan University. 

Dr. Smith is the director and producer of the documentary film, He Never Came Home, which tells the story of Lemon Howard, a mentally disabled 16 year old from Frierson, Louisiana who spent forty-two years in a mental institution for convicted felons for a crime that he did not commit. 

In October 2020, Dr. Smith completed a tour of duty in the Middle East and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal with a Bronze Service Star and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Dana’s Story
Books by A. L. Smith – Kirkus Reviews, and author’s website

Promotion for – He Never Came Home

Cassidy Wilson
Neuroscience student at the University of Chicago

“At the Forefront of Medicine: My Summer Involuntary Hospitalization”

Cassidy Wilson is an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago double majoring in Neuroscience and Human Rights. Cassidy wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Maroon in November of 2021 about their experience with involuntary hospitalization. They decided to do so because of their passion for disability justice and what they have learned from the movement about the importance of visibility and the disruption of dominant narratives that don’t recognize the dignity or humanity of people.

Robert Boruchowitz, JD
Seattle University School of Law

“The Nightmare in the Halls of Justice”

Robert C. Boruchowitz is Professor from Practice and Director of The Defender Initiative at Seattle University School of Law. Before joining the faculty in 2007, he was Director of The Defender Association in Seattle for 28 years. He founded the Defender’s Racial Disparity Project. He has appeared at every level of state and federal court. He was an expert witness in the Hurell Harring case in New York State, in the Best v. Grant County case in Washington, and in a motion to stop appointment of defender cases in New Orleans. He was co-principal investigator on the report, “An Analysis of the Economic Costs of Seeking the Death Penalty in Washington State.” He was lead researcher and co-author of “Minor Crimes, Massive Waste–The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts.” He worked on a Justice Department funded project with the Sixth Amendment Center to improve public defense in several states. He developed a Right to Counsel Clinic that won a writ of mandamus on right to counsel in Department of Corrections revocation hearings, a decision affirmed in the Court of Appeals. He taught in the Youth Advocacy Clinic where he pursued due process rights for children in truancy proceedings. He has taught criminal procedure and a seminar on Right to Counsel. He has received numerous awards including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Champion of Indigent Defense Award, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers William O. Douglas Award, the Washington State Bar Association Professionalism Award, the ACLU-W Civil Libertarian Award, and the Washington Defender Association Gideon Award.

Session Pre-Read – Sexual Predator Law – The Nightmare in the Halls of Justice

Phebe Bell, MSW
Director of Behavioral Health Department of Nevada County

“Assisted Outpatient Treatment: The Nevada County experience implementing Laura’s Law”

Phebe Bell is the Director of Behavioral Health for Nevada County, California.  In this role she oversees children’s services, adult services, crisis services and substance use disorder services.  Prior to working for the county, Phebe spent over 20 years working in local non-profits serving children, youth, families and at risk adults in the Tahoe Truckee area.  She is a long time Truckee resident and a big fan of the incredible outdoor playground offered by the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Phebe has a Masters degree in Social Work from Portland State University and a BA from Yale University.   

Professor David Cohen, LCSW, PhD
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

“Accountability for Civil Commitment Means Giving A Count

David Cohen, Professor of Social Welfare at UCLA, has been a clinical social worker and an academic in the U.S., Canada, and France. At the intersection of sociology, public health, psychiatry, and history, he has researched uses, effects, and ideas about psychiatric medications; drug safety systems; theories of drug action; drug withdrawal; civil commitment systems; and culture and medicalization, publishing over 130 articles and chapters and 13 books (latest co-authored book is Mad Science, 2015). With Gi Lee, he recently produced the first contemporary estimates of civil commitments in the U.S. and made all data available. He has received awards for his publications, teaching, mentoring, and advocacy.

Jonathan Cantarero, Esq.
La Cosecha Community Center

“Understanding the Ethics of Civil Commitment”

Jonathan Cantarero is an attorney and seminary graduate with several years of experience in the mental health field. Jonathan has worked with New York’s Mental Hygiene Legal Services, which represents individuals in civil commitment proceedings, and with the Mental Health Unit of the Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc., a non-profit providing support services to the Long Island community. Jonathan participated in the Health Law Concentration during law school and has since published and presented on mental health issues in both academic and faith-based settings. Jonathan currently serves as the Director of the Legal Navigator Program at La Cosecha Community Center in New York, and as a board member of the Central American Refugee Center, also in New York.

Amanda S. Marshall, JD
Attorney and advocate

“Representing Unpredictable Clients: Effective Communication for Attorneys”

Amanda J Marshall is an attorney doing work through Juvenile Advocates for Clackamas, a public defense consortium in Clackamas County, Oregon that represents clients in juvenile dependency, juvenile delinquency and civil commitment cases. Amanda is on the board of the Mental Health Association of Portland and is an active member of the Mental Health Alliance. As an amicus curie to the federal case US DOJ vs. City of Portland, which addresses the Portland Police Bureau’s pattern and practice of excessive use of force against people who are in mental health crisis, the Mental Health Alliance raises the voices of individuals with mental illness to the court. Amanda brings her personal passion and unique perspective to client advocacy based on being a consumer of the mental health treatment system in Portland. After graduating from law school, Amanda faced a civil commitment hearing for herself. Her experience of attempting to navigate that confusing and convoluted system spurred her to become an attorney for others facing civil commitment. Amanda has testified to and is willing to engage in open discussions about the challenges of practicing law with a mental illness and is a fierce advocate for clients with mental illness involved in the legal system.

Will Hall, MA, DipPW
Advocate and therapist

“Force or Neglect: False Options In The Debate About Involuntary Commitment”

I am a counselor and facilitator working with individuals, couples, families and groups via phone and web video. I have taught and consulted on mental health, trauma, psychosis, medications, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and organizational development in more than 30 countries, and been widely featured in the media for my advocacy efforts around mental health care. My work and learning arose from my own experiences of recovery from madness, and today I am passionate about new visions of mind and what it means to be human.
Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness
Madness Radio

Shoshana Kehoe-Ehlers, JD
Washington State Office of Public Defense

“Washington State Civil Commitment Law of Individuals Convicted of Sexually Violent Offenses: No Longer a Life Sentence”

Shoshana Kehoe-Ehlers is the Civil Commitment Representation Program Lead Attorney for the State Office of Public Defense. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1995 from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University and her Juris Doctor in 2000 from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN. After a year serving as a judicial law clerk for the Kitsap County Superior Court, she joined what is now the King County Department of Public Defense where she represented adult and young clients in all stages of felony, misdemeanor and dependency proceedings for eight years. Following that, she directed the Sex Offender Policy Board at the Sentencing Guidelines Commission for 3 years.

Janet Hays
Healing Minds New Orleans

“Civil Commitment: A Harm Mitigation Approach”

Janet Hays is founder and director of Healing Minds New Orleans, which removes funding and policy barriers to treatment and care for people living with no-fault serious mental diseases. She is a problem solver by nature, and works tirelessly with families and individuals impacted by serious mental illness crises to explore and create alternatives to incarceration, homelessness, unnecessary hospitalizations and death.

Janet’s inclusive and collaborative approach to advocacy has resulted in the creation of Louisiana’s first assisted outpatient treatment court that provides therapeutic, coordinated wrap- around support to people who struggle with medication adherence, advancing policy that brings together health and criminal justice systems to study the relationship between mental illness and incarceration and, most recently, the passage of a bill that includes Psychiatric Deterioration as a criteria for civil commitment before the standards of dangerousness to self/others or grave disability need to be met.

Bonnie Roy
California State Auditor

Bob Harris, MPP
California State Auditor

“California’s Approach to Involuntary Treatment for Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses”

Bonnie Roy is a Senior Auditor with the California State Auditor’s Office, which she joined in 2018. Her work for the office has included evaluating the performance of government entities that are responsible for providing mental health care, education and workforce training, and housing for Californians.

Bob Harris is an Audit Principal with the California State Auditor’s Office where he has worked for the past 12 years. In that capacity, Bob oversees teams of performance auditors reviewing a wide range of policy areas in state and local government, including health care, education, and criminal justice. He joined the State Auditor’s Office in 2010 after graduating from Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.


Lanterman-Petris-Short Act – California Has Not Ensured That Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses Receive Adequate Ongoing Care