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General Conference Description


General Conference Description


Beginning in the 1960s, states began closing mental health institutions all across the country. While the majority of mental health institutions were unforgiving dungeons where people were warehoused under inhumane conditions, the decision to “deinstitutionalize” the treatment of mental illness was largely for the purposes of divesting the state of responsibility for those who needed care. Combined with ongoing budget cuts to community-based resources, deinstitutionalization has meant that people with mental illness are denied essential services and treatment.


Currently, people with mental illness frequently find themselves jailed or incarcerated, effectively punished for not having the resources to manage their illnesses. Experts believe that over half of the prison and jail population has a mental illness. A quarter of that population has a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Jails and prisons are now de facto mental health facilities, and are ill equipped to do the job. Once confined, persons with mental illness rarely receive adequate mental health treatment and are at increased risk of being subjected to the harshest of punishments, including solitary confinement.


This year’s 20th Annual Conference on Race Class Gender and Ethnicity, Cruel and Unusual: How the United States Punishes Persons with Mental Illness considers the effects of deinstitutionalization and state divestment from the care of persons with mental illnesses. The Conference will examine how the refusal to allocate sufficient mental health resources has led to cruel and extreme punishment. To discuss these issues, the Conference invites practitioners, academics, advocates, and local community members who will consider how the criminal justice system has become the default mental health system. Conference topics include the lack of available mental health treatment in correctional facilities, the misuse of solitary confinement to punish prisoners with mental health issues, and the disproportionate and wrongful use of the death penalty on persons with mental illnesses. We hope to explore how best to achieve meaningful reform to better serve this population.


The Conference will be held in the Rotunda of UNC Chapel Hill’s law school on February 27, 2016, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is open to the public.








Craig Haney is Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Director of the Program in Legal Studies, and the UC Presidential Chair, 2015-2018 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haney holds Ph.D. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University, and served as one of the principal researchers on the highly publicized “Stanford Prison Experiment” in 1971. He has been studying the psychological effects of living and working in prison environments since then, and many of his analyses of those issues appear in his widely praised book, Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment, published by the American Psychological Association in 2006, and nominated for a National Book Award.


His work has taken him to numerous maximum security prisons across the United States and in several different countries where he has evaluated conditions of confinement and interviewed prisoners about the mental health and other consequences of incarceration. In the late 1970s, Professor Haney began to study the unique psychological effects of solitary-type confinement and, over the last several decades he has conducted systematic, in-depth assessments of representative samples of literally hundreds of solitary or “supermax” prisoners in a number of different states. Professor Haney has served as an expert witness in several landmark cases addressing the constitutional rights of prisoners, including Toussaint v. McCarthy (1983), Madrid v. Gomez (1995), Coleman v. Gomez (1995), and Ruiz v. Johnson (1999), and Brown v. Plata (2011). In 2012, he was appointed to a National Academy of Sciences Committee studying the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States and also testified at an historic hearing before the U.S. Senate examining the nature and effects of solitary confinement. In 2014, Professor Haney was selected as the University’s Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer.








Solitary Confinement: Perpetuating and Creating Mental Illness


Panel Description


Across this country over 80,000 individuals are suffering in solitary confinement where they are commonly confined to their cells for at least 23 hours a day. This extreme isolation both perpetuates pre-existing mental illness, and creates new mental illness in those subjected to this punishment. Individuals who experience the horrors of solitary confinement live with the lasting consequences long after they leave that cell. This panel will address the cruelty of solitary confinement, particularly in regard to mental health and the need for systematic reform.




Professor Deborah Weissman is the Reef Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law. She was the Director of Clinical Programs from January 2001 through July 2010. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Syracuse University and graduated cum laude from Syracuse University Law School. Prior to teaching law, she has had extensive experience in all phases of legal advocacy, including labor law, family, education related civil rights, and immigration law in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tampa, Florida, and as a partner in a civil rights firm in Syracuse, New York. From 1994 to 1998, she was Deputy Director and then Executive Director at Legal Services of North Carolina.




Craig Haney is Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Director of the Program in Legal Studies, and the UC Presidential Chair, 2015-2018 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haney holds Ph.D. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University, and served as one of the principal researchers on the highly publicized “Stanford Prison Experiment” in 1971.


Amy Fettig serves as Senior Staff Counsel for the ACLU’s National Prison Project (NPP).  At NPP, she litigates federal class action prison conditions cases.  Her practice focuses on claims regarding medical and mental health care in prison, solitary confinement, prison rape and sexual abuse, and comprehensive reform in juvenile facilities.  Ms. Fettig is also the director of the ACLU’s nationwide Stop Solitary campaign seeking to end the practice of extreme isolation in our nation’s prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers through public policy reform, state and federal legislation, litigation and public education.  A leading authority on women prisoners, Ms. Fettig also works with a wide range of ACLU affiliates on both campaigns to end the shackling of pregnant women and their advocacy strategies around women’s health in prison.  A national expert on prisoner rights law, she provides technical legal assistance and strategic counsel to advocacy groups and lawyers around the country and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University.  Prior to law school, Ms. Fettig worked with women prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families in New York City.  She holds a B.A., with distinction, Carleton College; a Master’s from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs; and a J.D. from Georgetown University.  Ms. Fettig is a member of the New York State Bar (2002) and the Bar for the District of Columbia (2006).


Susan Pollitt was raised in Chapel Hill. She attended Northeastern University School of Law (1984) and started her legal career with the Public Defender's office in Charlotte. She moved back to the Triangle area with her husband, Bill Rowe, in 1987 and worked for NCOSH and then N.C. Prisoner Legal Services (1989-2005). In 2005 she joined the staff of Carolina Legal Assistance (CLA). Since 2007, when Governor Easley designated CLA as our state's P&A, Susan has focused on making the promise of community integration a reality for people in North Carolina and protecting the rights of people with disabilities living in institutions.

Ethics Lunch and Learn








Kelley DeAngelus is an Assistant Public Defender in Raleigh, North Carolina where she represents indigent clients charged with felonies at the trial level.  Ms. DeAngelus is also a representative for the Wake County Public Defender’s Office on the recently formed Wake County Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Partnership, a county-wide multidisciplinary group that is currently working towards better methods to divert people with mental health issues away from the criminal justice system.  From 2005 until 2011, she was a Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL) in Durham, North Carolina where she represented indigent death-sentenced inmates in North Carolina.  Ms. DeAngelus settled in North Carolina after being selected for a two-year capital trial fellowship with the Fair Trial Initiative in Durham, North Carolina.  In 2008, she and Maitri “Mike” Klinkosum received the ACLU of North Carolina Award and the Kellie Crabtree Award from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice for their representation and exoneration of Floyd Brown, an innocent client with mental retardation who was wrongfully charged with capital murder and incarcerated in a State mental hospital for 14 years without trial.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Music in 2000 from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.  In 2003, she graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, where she was co-Editor-in-Chief of the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review and an International Law Fellow.






Access to Mental Health Treatment











The Capacity to Proceed: When a Defendant Can Legally Stand Trial




Mental illness can impact all stages of litigation, including whether a trial can happen at all. Consequently, criminal defense lawyers often must screen their own clients for mental illness. This panel will address what happens when a person with mental illness faces a criminal charge and the legal standard used by clinicians to determine whether a defendant can stand trial. Additionally, it will discuss the differences between mental illness and intellectual disability and how those differences can influence a legal proceeding.




Dr. Cindy Cottle is a Clinical Psychologist with a Specialization in Forensic Psychology.  She provides forensic consultation services to legal professionals throughout North Carolina.  In addition, she offers general psychological services (assessment/therapy) with adults in the triangle area.  Her office is centrally located in Raleigh, North Carolina, although she frequently travels to locations throughout the state when consulting on legal cases.


Christine Malumphy is an Assistant Public Defender at the Wake County Public Defender where she has represented indigent clients in district court for the last three and a half years. After graduating University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, she clerked for the Honorable Carlos Lucero in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and then was Court Counsel for the Palau Supreme Court.





Mental Health in a Capital Case: A Personal Story of Trauma, Illness, Tragedy and Vindication


Panel Description


Elizabeth Hambourger of The Center for Death Penalty Litigation tells the story of a rural North Carolina woman who faced first degree murder charges despite overwhelming evidence of her years of suffering from mental illness and irrefutable evidence that she was having a psychotic episode at the time of the alleged crime. Ms. Hambourger will talk about how she got to know her client and what it was like to work on the case. She will also discuss what went wrong in the case and what went right that eventually led to the capital charges being dropped.




Elizabeth Hambourger has been a CDPL staff attorney since 2004. She grew up in Raleigh, and received her undergraduate and law degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill. Before coming to CDPL, she was a staff attorney at North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services.


UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106
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