Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren and Dan Ashley: Stories from America’s First Mental Health Court
This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
In 1997, Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren was appointed to preside over America’s first mental health court. As a young lawyer, she bore witness to the consequences of an underdeveloped mental health care infrastructure. Unable to do more than offer guidance, she watched families get torn apart as client after client was ensnared in the criminal justice system for crimes committed as a result of addiction, homelessness and severe mental illness. She soon learned that this was not an isolated issue—the Treatment Advocacy Center estimates that in 44 states, jails and prisons house 10 times as many people with serious mental illness than state psychiatric hospitals. Lerner-Wren says mental health courts offer some relief in underserved communities, but they can only serve as a single piece of a new focus on the vast overhaul of the policies that got us here. Come hear her thoughts on a future where our legal system and mental health infrastructure work in step to decriminalize rather than stigmatize.
The Commonwealth Club
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, 94105