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Faith Behind Bars and Beyond - 2017 Prison Forum

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Cathedral Parish House

45 Church Street

Hartford, CT 06103

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Presents: Prisons as Asylums: The Mentally Ill and Incarceration

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Check-in begins at 8:30 AM.

Christ Church Cathedral Parish House

Hartford, Connecticut

“We have traded a hospital bed for a jail cell.”


Dr. Craig Burns, Director of Psychiatric Services for the Connecticut Department of Correction, will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Burns holds degrees from Wesleyan, Columbia, and Rutgers Universities, as well as from the New Jersey Medical School and the Yale School of Medicine, where he was Psychiatry Resident of the Year, and where he has been a lecturer and clinical instructor. He was the Principal Psychiatrist at the Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown, Connecticut; as a Senior Resident at the West Haven Veteran's Administration Hospital; and as the Assistant Chief of Psychiatric Services for the University of Connecticut's Correctional Managed Health Care.

Dr. Burns has emphasized what both clergy and laity can do in the healing process.

“We have traded a hospital bed for a jail cell.”

In a move to show more compassion for the mentally ill, states across the country closed state mental hospitals.

New medicines allowed people with mental illness to live in communities with the assistance of outreach workers.

Unfortunately, the outreach workers and local clinics were cut from budgets soon after.

Although most of the mentally ill are arrested for things such as disturbing the peace, substance abuse, or vagrancy, only violent cases are reported in the media. As a result, society is apt to think of the mentally ill as dangerous.

Many mentally ill people are not diagnosed until they reach prison. The stress of prison life often aggravates or causes mental illness while in prison. Recidivism is high because ex-offenders do not get the care they need when they return to their communities.

In Connecticut prisons, 73% of women and 55% of men have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

There will be a panel discussion with formerly-incarcerated men and women.

A short film will be shown, with time for discussion.

Beverages and snacks will be offered throughout the Forum, and a light lunch will be served.

An afternoon presentation following lunch will be led by Loel Meckel, LCSW, Assistant Director of the Division of Forensic Services (DFS) in the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The DFS provides court-ordered evaluations and manages multiple community service programs for criminal justice-involved adults with psychiatric disabilities, co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders, and primary substance use disorders. These programs span the range of criminal justice involvement from initial police contact through reentry to the community from prison. All of these programs are operated in collaboration with law enforcement, courts, jails, prisons, probation, and parole. Prior to joining DMHAS in 2004, Mr. Meckel worked in direct service and managerial positions at three Local Mental Health Authorities and has worked with criminal justice-involved adults in multiple programs.

Refunds are accepted before April 18, 2017 (11:59 p.m.).

Please direct questions or trouble with registration to Ellen Adams (deaconellen98@yahoo.com).





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Cathedral Parish House

45 Church Street

Hartford, CT 06103

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