National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

1998 NARPA Conference
November 19-22, Albany, NY

              Redoubling our Efforts             

Learning From Each Other
Sharing What Works
Creating Synergy
Organizing for Effectiveness

The 17th annual Rights Conference of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
took place in Albany, New York, November 19 - 22.

Workshop Information & and Schedule

Details on Legal / Litigation workshops

Note:   The National Council on Disability conducted an open Public Hearing coinciding with the NARPA conference on public policy issues impacting people with psychiatric disabilities.

Keynote speakers included:


Michael L. Perlin is Professor of Law at New York Law School. Formerly the Director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate, and Deputy Public Defender in charge of the Mercer County (Trenton) NJ Office of the Public Defender, he now serves on the National Advisory Board of the Institute of Mental Disability and Law of the National Center for State Courts, and on the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. His three-volume treatise, Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal, won the 1990 Walter Jeffords Writing Prize and is the indispensable authority for legal practitioners. His recent book, The Jurisprudence of the Insanity Defense, won the Manfred Guttmacher Award of the American Psychiatric Association as the best book of the year in law and forensic psychiatry in 1994-95; he was also written a volume treatise on mental health law, Law and Mental Disability. He graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and from Columbia University Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

Professor Perlin is a prolific writer and wonderful speaker. Recent articles have focused on the ADA and persons with mental disabilities ("Can Sanist Attitudes be Undone?"); the impact of the ADA on the rights of institutionalized persons to have voluntary sexual interaction and to refuse antipsychotic medication ("...Sex, Drugs, the ADA, and Psychiatric Hospitalization"); the inadequacy of counsel in right to refuse treatment cases; how the link made between deinstitutionalization and current widespread homelessness is mythical; "sanism" and pretextuality in judicial decision-making and the development of our laws; the insanity defense; and "therapeutic jurisprudence." In his spare time, Professor Perlin plays the clarinet in a community band. He is an avid fan of baseball and opera, and is currently at work on an article on the jurisprudence of Bob Dylan. The title of his keynote for NARPA is, "Annie Hall Goes to Court: The State of Legal Advocacy in the Mental Health System."



Kevin Heldman, a distinguished journalist and author, who went undercover in the psychiatric ward of an inner-city New York hospital; spent two months living in a homeless shelter in London, England to report on poverty and social services in that country; and has reported on a behavioral modification penal boot camp. As a reporter, Heldman has roamed the streets with homeless teenagers, spent time in prostitution bars; he dug through twenty-six years of psychiatric records and spent considerable time in boarding homes and run-down motel rooms chronicling the care and treatment of an individual diagnosed with mental illness; he roamed subway tunnels and climbed on bridges in the middle of the night with crack abusing, criminal NYC graffiti writers; and he reported on an individual under the care of a mental health community program who died of neuroleptic malignant syndrome. 

Heldman's work has been published in Rolling Stone, Esquire, Z Magazine, Vibe, US Magazine, The Dallas Observer, Texas Monthly, City Limits,  NY Press, Korea Web Weekly, and a number of Japanese publications. He was a finalist in 1996 and again in 1997 for the Livingston Award for international reporting -- the largest all-media, general reporting award in the country for journalists under 35 years of age -- and received a National Mental Health Association award for excellence in mental health reporting in 1998.



Curtis Whiteway is an internationally recognized expert on the Holocaust, a U.S. soldier with the liberating forces at Hadamar, Germany, and the "psychiatric clinic" that was used for euthanasia killing of children and adults with disabilities.  Hadamar was one of the first Nazi killing centers — with a gas chamber used for "euthanasia" killings. In a 1939 decree, Hitler personally enlarged "the authority of certain physicians to designate and direct that persons [judged] incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death." The SS used the technical knowledge and experience gained there to construct huge killing centers at Auschwitz, Treblinka and other concentration camps. Mr. Whiteway has spent many years researching the euthanasia murders, human experimentation, military psychiatry, and the resettlement and rehabilitation of Nazi doctors into the American medical community.



Peter Breggin, M.D., is the Director of the Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, a nonprofit research and educational network concerned with the impact of mental health theory and practices upon individual well-being, personal freedom, and family and community values.  Dr. Breggin is a practicing psychiatrist in Bethesda, MD, and has served as an expert witness in many landmark cases addressing the damage caused by psychiatric treatments. Peter is a long time friend and advocate of NARPA. He has authored many popular books including: Brain Disabling Treatments of Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Role of the FDA; Toxic Psychiatry; Electroshock: Its Brain-Disabling Effects; The War Against Children of Color; Beyond Conflict: Self-Help and Psychotherapy to Peacemaking; The War Against Children; Talking Back to Prozac; Talking Back to Ritalin; and many others.


As always, NARPA had exciting and stimulating workshops. Those in attendancel had the opportunity to meet, share, and network with outstanding presenters and keynote speakers many of whom are leading activists, experts, and noted authors, including:

Laurie Ahern, National Empowerment Center • Michael Allen, J.D., Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law • Robert Appel, J.D., Office of the Defender General, VT • Peter Ashenden, Mental Health Empowerment Project • Mary Auslander, NY • Ronald Bassman, Ph.D., NARPA Vice President and NY State Psychological Assoc • Tom Behrendt, J.D., NARPA Treasurer and CT Legal Rights Project • Teri Berge, IL Guardianship & Advocacy Commission • Kathleen Blank, J.D., Attorney Program Specialist, National Council on Disability• Peter Breggin, M.D., Center for the Study of Psychiatry, MD and Keynoter • Marcia Bristo., Chairperson of the National Council on Disability (NCD) • Mary Lou Britton, Wenham, MA • Bill Brooks, J.D., Jacob Fuchsberg Law Center at Touro College • Doug Cameron, World Assoc of Electroshock Survivors, TX • Judi Chamberlin, National Empowerment Center • Mihael Cigler., Legal Advocate, Slovenia • William Coffin, J.D., IL Guardianship and Advocacy Comm • David Cohen, Ph.D., Professor at University of Montreal School of Social Work • Cathy Costanzo, J.D., MA Center for Public Representation • Bill Crane, J.D., Massachusetts Department of Mental Health • Peter Cubra, J.D., Attorney, NM • Marcia Cutting, Chaplain at Capital District Psychiatric Center, Albany, NY • Susan Daniels, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs in Baltimore, MD •  Kim Darrow, J.D., Mental Hygiene Legal Service, NY • Emmett Dwyer, J.D., Connecticut Legal Rights Project • George Ebert, Mental Patients Liberation Alliance, NY • Dennis Feld, J.D., Mental Hygiene Legal Service, NY • Dan Fisher, M.D., National Empowerment Center • Janet Foner, SCI, PA • Leonard Roy Frank, Network Against Psychiatric Assault, CA • Kevin Heldman, Journalist and Keynoter • Stacie Hiramoto, P&A, Inc., CA • Andy Imparato, on Policy Making • Pearl Johnson, NARPA Secretary and California Network of Mental Health Clients • Brooke Ketcham, Hamilton, MA • John Kemp, J.D. • Mel King, Ph.D., Director of Community Fellows Program at MIT • Ellen Lawson, J.D., Neighborhood Legal Services • Ruth Lowenkron, J.D., Disability Law Center at NY Lawyers for Public Interest, Inc. • Franklin Marquit, founder, National Artists for Mental Health • Elizabeth McEwen, Connecticut Legal Rights Project • David Oaks, Support Coalitiion Int’l • Bonnie Millstein, J.D., California • Darby Penny, NY State Office of Mental Health • Michael Perlin, J.D., Professor of New York School of Law and Keynoter • David Popiel, J.D., Community Health Law Project • Eric Rosenthal, Mental Disability Rights International • Judith Salisbury, Connecticut Legal Rights Project • Steven Schwartz, J.D., MA Center for Public Representation • Vera Hassner Sharav, J.D., Disability Law Center at NY Lawyers for the Public Interest • Laurel Whitehouse Spahn, J.D., IL Guardianship and Advocacy Comm • Peter Stastny, M.D., psychiatrist, advocate, and filmmaker • Susan Stefan, J.D., Univ of Miami School of Law, FL • Michael Susko, M.S., MD • Sherry Trafford, J.D., Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law • Rae Unzicker, NARPA President, SD • Curtis Whiteway, Expert on the Holocaust and Keynoter • Laura Zeigler, Vermont • Cliff Zucker, J.D., Disability Advocates, Inc. (NY) •

Workshop Information and Schedule

Legal / Litigation workshops

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