Advancing the rights and opportunities of persons with mental disabilities through quality legal advocacy and education in Massachusetts

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Rethinking Prosecution by Service Providers of Those They Serve

What You Will Learn

People with mental health issues receiving services across a range of institutional settings increasingly face the possibility of being arrested and criminally charged for behaviors for which their treatment program is designed to provide care. We will spend the day examining the problem of assaults and arrests, and learning about programmatic and advocacy responses that can help improve the situation for both the clients/patients and their service providers.

Youth face this problem in schools, often initiated by a school resource or police officer or by a school administrator, or in residential programs, where vendor staff or administrators may press charges after an incident during a restraint or a similar event. Adults experience this problem in hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric inpatient units, where staff may press charges on their own or at the directive of administrators when a patient acts out. It is also a problem in Massachusetts prisons where DOC must report all felonies to the DA and in jails where some sheriff departments pursue charges as a means of discipline and control.

Our expert panelists will discuss:

• the efficacy and ethics of pressing criminal charges against people with mental health issues and the effect on treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation;

• whether pressing charges is ever justified and whether it helps maintain institutional order and prevent violence;

• policies/practices and training various settings can implement to minimize or eliminate this practice;

• whether there are allies among facility administrators and employees and within the district attorney offices and courts who can help; and,

• when charges are filed, how we can best defend people with mental health issues in the criminal court setting and through the civil litigation process.

Click here for the full day Program Agenda

Click here for our event flyer.

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How to Register

To pay by check, click on the "Registration Form" below, complete and mail form with check payment included to MHLAC, 24 School Street, Suite 804, Boston, MA 02108 ATTN: Conference Registration.

Registration Form or Registration Form (fillable)


Click the "Pay Online" button below to register and make a credit card payment online (non-refundable convenience fee added for online processing)

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Be sure to register before the November 2nd deadline to avoid the $25 late fee. We do accept day of registrations. Please have the registration form completed if paying with a check. We will also have staff onsite to assist with credit card registration. Please try to arrive a bit early if you plan to register in person on the 16th.



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Send your questions to mruttenberg@mhlac.orgPut QUESTION in the subject area of your email.

Credit Information

This program is approved by the Committee for Public Counsel Services for:

6 MHLD credits (including 2 trial skills credits)

6 credits from adult criminal trial panel

6 YAD credits

4 CAFL credits

This program has been approved by the MaMHCA as a Continuing Education Activity for LMHCs for 6.75 Category 1.

This program has been approved by the Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College and Simmons Schools of Social Work for 7 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR, Authorization Number D 73010.

MHLAC EVENT POLICIES (including online events):

IN CASE OF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES: If a MHLAC online event is cancelled because of technology problems, or if participants cannot access the event due to their own technology problems, participants will receive access to event recordings or rescheduled live events as soon as possible.

ACCESSIBILITY AND ACCOMMODATIONS: For information and accommodations requests, please contact Gisela Valdez (617) 338-2345 x131 or

PRODUCTS NOT ENDORSED BY MHLAC: MHLAC does not endorse products but will allow presenters to sell them independently during a LIVE conference event; usually after a presentation, during a break and/or at the end of the day.

CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY: If you cancel your registration before the close of business 1 week before the event, MHLAC will issue a refund of your registration fee minus $25. All persons canceling registration after close of business one week before the event or unable to attend will receive a packet of materials from the conference event.

CONFERENCE GRIEVANCE POLICY: Any person who is dissatisfied with the response of MHLAC regarding conference policies as stated on conference registration forms and/or this website, may, within 30 days of the event, request a review by the MHLAC Executive Director.

CONFERENCE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE: Any person who is dissatisfied with the response of MHLAC regarding conference policies as stated on conference registration forms, may, within 30 days of the event, request a review by the MHLAC Executive Director. The Executive Director or a designee shall review the circumstances and shall communicate in writing with the grievant within 20 days of MHLAC’s receipt of the complaint regarding the results of the review. Grievants whose complaints are deemed justified shall be afforded such relief as will address their concern and/or, to the extent possible, make the person whole. The Executive Director’s decision is final.

IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER: If a MHLAC conference event is cancelled because of inclement weather, MHLAC will as soon as possible notify participants by email and will post an announcement at MHLAC will make every effort to reschedule the event at the earliest date possible and will offer a refund of any pre-paid fee to those that are unable to attend on the rescheduled date. If a conference is not cancelled but a participant asserts that travel would have been hazardous, MHLAC will offer the participant a credit towards a future training.

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