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Mental Health & Criminal Justice

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 14% of individuals incarcerated at state and federal prisons and 26% of individuals in jails meet the threshold for serious psychological distress (SPD). This is 3 to 5 times higher than the general population, which is 5%. This matter is more concerning than just mere statistics. People in our communities – friends, family members, neighbors – are experiencing serious mental health issues for which they may not be getting the support they need. Instead, they are being incarcerated where that support is less likely, and Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionality affected. The Elk Place Health Spot in partnership with the Empowering Change Task Force is presenting a webinar on Mental Health and Criminal Justice to explore this connection, its impact on our communities, and what can be done to support those experiencing mental health crises. The online event on October 27, 2020 from 11 am to 12:30 pm CDT will include presentations from mental health practitioners, criminal justice experts, and advocates.

This event is free and open to the public. It has also been approved by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners for 1.5 clinical continuing education credit hours for social workers.

Please click here to register in advance.

Event presenters include:

  • Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge for Orleans Parish Civil District Court
  • Dr. Serena Chaudhry, LCSW, Clinical Director for EPIC-NOLA, Tulane's early psychosis intervention program
  • Ginger Parsons, LCSW, Supervising Social Worker for the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office
  • Dr. Sarah DeLand, Forensic Psychiatry Specialist for Tulane Behavioral Health Clinic and Assistant Professor at Tulane School of Medicine

Presenter Bios:

Kern Anthony Reese is a judge of Orleans Parish Civil District Court.  He has also served by appointment as a judge ad hoc for New Orleans Traffic Court, Municipal Court and First City Court.  Judge Reese earned a B.A. degree in History from Pomona College and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law. Since 1986, Judge Reese has served as chair and as a board member for the New Orleans Home Mortgage Authority/ Finance Authority of New Orleans.  He has been an associate adjunct professor of Tulane University School of Law for the last two decades.  Judge Reese is currently a member of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society and the Louisiana State Bar Association.  He has also served as a member of the President’s Council of Loyola University of the South, the Loyola Law School Law Alumni board and as a chairman and commissioner of the Board of Commissioners of the Regional Transit Authority and of the Regional Planning Commission.

Serena Chaudhry has worked with survivors of war trauma, trafficking and domestic violence for more than 20 years and with the chronically mentally ill for the past ten years. She has worked in collaboration with the International Trauma Studies program housed at Columbia University in New York City, as well as with the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston. She is currently the Clinical Director of an Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana and an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Tulane School of Medicine, she also volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights providing psychological evaluations for asylum cases. She integrates traditional cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis (CBTp) with more holistic approaches to healing such as meditation, mindfulness, breath work and yoga and has found the latter to be highly effective in cross-cultural sessions and with clients who struggle with social cognition. Serena received her Master of Social Work and Public Health from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan in December 2001 and her Doctorate in Social Work from Tulane University in 2018. 

Ginger Parsons, LCSW-BACS, is the Client Services Division Supervisor and Social Worker for the Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans. Ginger leads a team of social workers, client advocates and interns working directly with indigent clients in the criminal justice system. The sole program of its kind in Louisiana, Ginger was integral in establishing its practice of advocacy and mitigation for clients both in the courtroom and out. Ginger specializes in chronic mental illness and trauma, and is committed to connecting clients with successful treatment services to break the cycle of recidivism. Ginger was previously the VP of Programs and a Clinical Social Worker for Family Service of Greater New Orleans. Ginger earned her Masters of Social Work from Tulane University.

Dr. Sarah DeLand graduated from University of Louisville medical school, completed a psychiatry residency at University of Pittsburgh, and a forensic psychiatry fellowship at the University of Florida.  She joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry in 1993, helping to develop the forensic division.  She helped develop Community Forensic Services for the state of Louisiana, monitoring and supervising insanity acquittees throughout the state, with an eye toward effective treatment and public safety.  She has worked for years with criminal courts around the state, and also with the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 11:00 to 12:15
Invitation status: 
Open to the public
RSVP/Reservation via Website:

Sponsored by: