Conference: Coercive Treatment — Moving Beyond "For your Own Good"

May 3, 2019

The Berkeley Social Welfare community is invited to participate in the Coercive Treatment – Moving Beyond “for Your Own Good" Conference. The conference is organized by the Drug Policy Alliance(DPA) and will be held at the UC Hastings College of the Law (198 McAllister Street; San Francisco, CA 94102) on May 16 and 17.

The DPA has outlined the following ambitions for this convening:

Calls for more treatment funding, or “treatment instead of incarceration,” are common in the drug policy, mental health, recovery, criminal justice, and disability spaces. The same indignities and negative consequences commonly associated with criminalization, however, can also be reproduced by public health and treatment interventions that fail to prioritize consent. Indeed, even as we begin to move away from harsh criminal penalties for drug use and possession, coercive drug addiction treatment, fueled by racism, stigmatization, paternalism, ableism, and profit, is on the upswing. Forced detox, civil commitment, and drug and other treatment courts are proliferating with wide public and government support, despite a myriad of negative consequences for both individuals and society. The fact that many “treatment” facilities mirror prisons and asylums appears to be going totally unnoticed or is dismissed. This conference will bring together experts by practice, study, and lived experience to shine a light on the history of coercion, the various forms coercion can take and how it is manifesting in the political moment, including who is subject to coercion, why coercion is harmful, and the importance of creating patient- and rights-centered alternatives.

Assistant Professor Erin Kerrison will be speaking on May 16 on the interactive panel titled, “Drivers of Coercion—Vulnerable Populations, Stigmatization, and Economics.” Her research and advocacy primarily center the experiences of drug-involved Black people who must negotiate state supervision and subsequent private sector exclusions (e.g. employment, housing). She relies heavily on qualitative research methods to identify the ways in which law and legal institutions prove harmful drivers of poor health outcomes for Black people moving through marginalized spaces.

Dr. Kerrison invites the School of Social Welfare to come to the conference feeling empowered to share a Social Worker’s perspective and expertise in conversations that will include participants representing an array of academic disciplines, social justice institutions, policy development practices, and organizing strategies nationwide. As this this conference will speak to an array of stakeholders with social justice interests in drug treatment administration; the privatization of healthcare; legal policy; disability, women’s, and LGBTQ rights; and anti-racism, we believe that the experience will capitalize on the diverse array of voices present and set into motion a series of generative action-oriented discussions.

The conference is free to attend, is wheelchair accessible (parking and building entry), is located within access of Civic Center BART stop, offers all-gender restroom space, and will provide ASL interpretation. To request an accommodation or to inquire about accessibility, please reply to the order confirmation, email, or call Aliza Cohen at 212.613.8055.

Participants need only RSVP for Thursday’s panels and/or Friday’s workshops (all programming details are offered on the DPA conference sites).