16. April 2021 - 13:00 till 21:00
Metropolitan State University
United StatesSaint Paul700 East 7th Street

Understanding and Responding to Mass Incarceration 2021, Metropolitan State University, Friday, 16. April 2021

Join Metropolitan State University for the Seventh Annual Forum on Understanding and Responding to Mass Incarceration (URMI).

About this Event

The theme of #URMI2021, From Mental Illness to Public Wellness, will examine the specific challenges faced by people with mental illness across the spectrum of mass incarceration.

URMI aspires to inform various dimensions of mass incarceration, connect change-makers to each other, and inspire participants to activate strategies that will make mass incarceration a thing of the past!

NOTE: This event was originally scheduled for April of 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check back in December 2020 when we hope to have further information available. Until then, the agenda and details of the 2020 event remain below, as the current plan is to keep the 2020 theme intact and host the event in 2021 with the same keynote speakers, breakout sessions, etc. Thank you.
Pre-Conference Film Screening
Thursday, April 15, 2021



Metropolitan State University's Film Space, Founders Hall Auditorium

387 Maria Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55106

Free and open to the public; no RSVP or registration required.

A rare and intimate look into the lives of mentally ill offenders struggling to make it on the outside. This year alone, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds will be re-arrested.
Conference Agenda
Friday, April 16, 2021

7:30-8:30am Registration

8:30-9:00am Welcome and Opening Remarks with Metropolitan State University Provost AMY GORT; Deputy County Manager of Health and Wellness for Ramsey County, DR. PAUL ELWOOD; Nawayee Center School Cultural Teacher, BOB KLANDERUD; and Associate Professor in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, RAJ SETHURAJU.

9:00-10:00am Keynote and Q&A with ALISA ROTH, reporter and author of INSANE: AMERICA'S CRIMINAL TREATMENT OF MENTAL ILLNESS

One of the most hidden and yet most critical problems in the American criminal justice system is the mental health crisis. In recent years, our jails and prisons have become de facto psychiatric care facilities, with as many as half of all prisoners dealing with mental illness. Ms. Roth will give an inside view of the crisis as it has played out across the country, show how it relates to the broader phenomenon of mass incarceration, and outline some promising reform strategies.

10:00-10:15am Break

10:15-11:15am Morning Breakout Sessions – Understanding Mass Incarceration

11:15am-12:00pm Box Lunch

12:00-1:00pm Afternoon Keynote with mental health activist NAOMI GAINES-YOUNG (N.G. YOUNG)

Presenting the argument that many of the current problems faced within the African-American community is by large a result of a lack of awareness about our past history, the trauma endured by our recent and ancient ancestors, and the lost connection between the present generation and the civil rights generation. N.G. Young will also explore how the censorship of the cultural and spiritual visionaries in today's mainstream media, music, and information aids in the character and cultural assassination of the black man and woman.

1:00-1:15pm Break / Poetry Interlude with SHVONNE

1:15-2:15pm Afternoon Breakout Sessions – Responding to Mass Incarceration (Continuation of Morning Sessions)

2:30-3:30pm Community Conversations and Interactive Discussions

3:30-4:00pm Poetry by SHVONNE and Closing Reflections

Breakout Sessions
Morning Breakouts: Understanding Mass Incarceration
The purpose of the morning breakout session is to gain greater insight into one key facet of the system of mass incarceration and the role that sexism, racism, felony disenfranchisement and barriers to re-entry play in perpetuating it, especially their impact on people with mental illness. These sessions are designed to be conversations that are both informative and reflective.
Afternoon Breakouts: Responding to Mass Incarceration
The promise of the afternoon breakout session is to be part of the solution to the injustices of mass incarceration, racism and sexism, particularly as it impacts people with mental illness. These sessions include time for discussion of current activism, possible future organizing efforts and commitment to action.
Afternoon breakout sessions are designed to continue the conversations begun in the morning sessions. Participants are encouraged to remain with the same group for both sessions.
  1. Solitary Confinement presented by NOAH MCCOURT, LARRY POSEY, BROTHER PHIL HOLMES and TIERRE CALDWELL. Inmates may spend months in solitary confinement due to corrections staff being untrained in how to understand and treat trauma or respond to mental illness in a culturally specific way.
  2. Trauma and Healing presented by DR SHEILA SWEENEY. Understanding experiences regarding early childhood adversities, social supports and reflective-functioning capacity through the lens of African American young ***** mothers and their children.
  3. Implicit Bias presented by DEB MOSBY and ****** JACKSON. Engage in an open forum to discover the definition of "implicit bias" and to explore the implicit biases within ourselves. Active participation is optional.
  4. Youth and ******* Risk presented by RENEE LABOT
  5. Intersectional Barriers LGBTQIA Inmates **** to Access Mental Illness Resources presented by U'NAIJITEEK "NUNU" HOUSE and SAMANTHA "SAM" KOLTES.
  6. Restorative Practices Circles of Support presented by DARNELLA WADE and TIFFANY FLYNN. Bear witness to how impactful the Circle of Support is in reducing the long term effects of mass incarceration.
  7. Holistic Housing: Starting, Maintaining, and Working Within a Culturally Inclusive - Trauma Informed SUCCESSFUL Housing Model presented by RICHARD MCLEMORE. This interactive session will allow participants to work through various housing methodologies, explore best practices - if any - and begin to unpack what it truly means to be ”homeless” while struggling with a plethora of barriers.
  8. How Mental Illness and Incarceration Affects Families presented by SHARON BROOKS GREEN. Recommended for social workers, probation officers, case managers and others who work directly with clients that are families of the incarcerated.
  9. Overmedicating and Misdiagnosing People with Mental Illness in Pr*son
  10. Mentally Ill and Dangerous Civil Commitments presented by NAOMI GAINES-YOUNG. The facts about the obscure reality regarding Minnesota's civil commitment process, the McNaughton rule (insanity defense law), and what it means to be committed as Mentally Ill & Dangerous.
  11. Policing and Mental Illness presented by MICHELLE GROSS. Findings from Communities United Against Police Brutality along with the practical actions needed to move away from police-only responses to mental health crisis calls.

Keynote Speakers


ALISA ROTH (@alisa_roth) is a print & radio reporter. Her book about mental illness and the criminal justice system, INSANE: AMERICA'S CRIMINAL TREATMENT OF MENTAL ILLNESS, is out now from Basic Books. Her work has been broadcast on Marketplace, NPR, and The World; her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and Gastronomica, among other publications.
As a 2014-2015 Soros Justice Fellow, Alisa spent a year investigating the growing role of jails and prisons as our de facto mental healthcare system. She has visited the country’s three largest psychiatric care providers, Rikers Island in New York City, the Cook County J*il in Chicago, and the Los Angeles County J*il in LA, and her research has included dozens of interviews with prisoners and their families, psychiatrists, lawyers, wardens, corrections officers and others.


N.G. YOUNG is an independent hip-hop artist, singer/songwriter, motivational speaker, mental health advocate, and author of the 2017 teen-fiction dystopian novel ILLEGAL: A HIP-HOP TALE. She works as the Marketing Assistant at NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion is both music and social activism. She has a deep love for storytelling and Hip-hop Culture. She became an infamous figure after the death of one of her twin sons by infanticide in 2003, due to her untreated mental illness.
Since her release from Pr*son in 2016, after serving fifteen-years, she had dedicated both her professional life at NAMI Minnesota, and her artistry to raising awareness about the dangers of ignoring mental health issues, especially within her own community. She seeks to both enlighten and inspire change and thoughtfulness while utilizing various mediums to foster growth and intellectual development about health and cultural wellness in both her community and for mental health professionals alike.Parking

The Parking Ramp at Metropolitan State University is located at 400 Maria Avenue in the heart of the St. Paul campus. Daily parking rate is $5.00 per vehicle. Carpooling is highly encouraged. Please, out of respect for our Dayton's Bluff neighbors, use the parking ramp.


If you need disability related accommodations, including parking, to make these events accessible, please contact the Center for Accessibility Resources, 651-793-1549 or email at least one week prior to the event.


#URMI2021 was organized by Metropolitan State University’s Department of Human Services, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, and the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship.


The organizers are deeply grateful to all of our sponsors, whose contributions made this event free of charge to all participants: Metropolitan State University Social Work Student Organization; NAMI Minnesota; Better Futures; MN Interfaith Power & Light; MN Second Chance Coalition; MN Teen and ***** Challenge; MN Justice Research Center; Hazelden Betty Ford GSAS; Saint Paul Teachers Federaton; Ramsey County Community Corrections; Ramsey County Attorney's Office; and the Office of Ramsey County - John Choi.

Share on Social Media

Like us on Facebook @URMIatMetroState

Follow us on Twitter @URMI_MetroState / @Choose_Metro

Use the hashtag #URMI2021

Questions? Concerns?

For more information about #URMI2021, contact raj at email.

Friday, 16. April 2021, Metropolitan State University, Understanding and Responding to Mass Incarceration 2021

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