National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Advocating for Inmates with Mental Illness: The Role of the Protection and Advocacy System

Heather McKimmie, J.D.

                  As Washington State’s protection and advocacy system, Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is charged with protecting the rights of people with disabilities, including those in jails and prisons.  In this presentation, attorneys from DRW will explain the origin of the protection and advocacy system and the unique authority that allows DRW access to inmates with disabilities, their records, and all areas inside correctional facilities. DRW will explain the different types of advocacy strategies it employs to protect the rights of inmates with disabilities, including technical assistance in self-advocacy, legislative advocacy, investigation, monitoring, coalition-building, negotiation, and litigation. 

Goals and Objectives

DRW will detail its recent advocacy projects in jails and prison, focusing specifically on providing information to workshop participants on: 

1.       DRW’s efforts to protect the rights of criminal defendants waiting long periods of time in jail for court-ordered competency evaluation and restoration services.

2.      DRW’s work with the Department of Corrections to reduce the use of segregation for prisoners with mental illnesses and to reduce the punishment of disability-related behavior.

3.      DRW’s newly acquired funding that will allow DRW to expand its prison advocacy.  

Link to brief presenter bio:

Heather McKimmie, J.D.