ULS DC Jail and Prison Advocacy assisting a man


The DC Jail Advocacy Project is an outgrowth of ULS’ PAIMI Program but separately funded through private foundations which enable us to conduct outreach to assist DC residents with psychiatric disabilities in the DC Jail or Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) who are planning their reentry into the community. Our goal is to redress abuse, neglect or discrimination which increase periods of incarceration and serve as barriers to successful reentry for men and women with psychiatric disabilities.

The purpose of the program is:

• To help remove the barriers which men and women with mental illness face while transitioning back to the community and seeking social integration, access to healthcare and support for their major needs

• To provide direct advocacy and public education which optimizes the leadership, competency and dignity of presently and previously incarcerated individuals in developing independent and self-directed treatment and living opportunities

• To leverage local governmental commitments to implement a public health model which provides for continuity of care and services with transparency, dignity, human rights and public health protections for all individuals.

People We Serve

• The DC Jail Advocacy Staff serves men, women and youth who meet all of the following criteria: 1) have a significant mental illness or emotional impairment as determined by a mental health professional; 2) are or have been incarcerated at the DC Central Detention Facility, Correctional Treatment Facility or as a DC resident within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (current outreach is limited to Allenwood UCC, FCI Fairton and Philadelphia FDC); and 3) who, during his or her incarceration or within 90 days of discharge, request help for problems falling within one of the aforementioned priorities.

• The ULS staff is not authorized or able to represent everyone. Requests for assistance are assessed on a case-by-case basis. If ULS is not able to take your case, we will try to provide you with information and/or refer you to another organization.

How To Request Services

To request ULS DC Jail Advocacy assistance for yourself or someone you know, call (202) 527-7033 or 1-877-221-4638, or e-mail tseltzer@uls-dc.org. The office is located at 220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130, Washington, D.C. 20002. Incarcerated individuals may request our services through their counselor or casemanager or may write us at the above address.

Our Project Priorities for 2018

PRIORITY ONE: Provide direct advocacy services for people with mental illness preparing to transition home from the DC Jail or federal prisons and seeking social integration, access to healthcare and support for their major needs.

  • Advocate for appropriate services and inclusion in the community for individuals returning to DC from the DC Jail or federal prison with priority to individuals exiting from prison straight to the streets.
  • Promote full accessibility of recovery programs, housing, community corrections, and other government-funded programs for people with psychiatric disabilities and challenge delay or denial in services due to their disabilities.
  • Investigate abuse and neglect complaints where there is probable cause to suspect abuse or neglect inside correctional facilities against people with mental illness.
  • Advocate for the Department of Behavioral Health and DC Medicaid to honor returning citizens’ self-determination and consumer choice and provide quality services and supports.
  • Work through parole and criminal defense sentencing mitigation to ensure access by people with psychiatric disabilities to services in the most integrated community settings.
  • Advocate against the improper use of seclusion, restraint, and medication at facilities where DC residents with mental illness receive services.
  • Strengthen self-advocacy and social integration after reentry through peer-based outreach and support.

PRIORITY TWO: Advance public awareness through direct advocacy and public education through the following objectives:

  • Provide outreach and education to administrative and policy-making bodies, advocates, and service providers to promote self-determination, consumer choice, incorporation of best practices and high quality services in the least restrictive environment.
  • Conduct workshops on the above topics by training individuals including mental health clinicians, correctional staff, parole officers/examiners/commissioners, defense attorneys, and other advocates.
  • Provide outreach and education to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated DC residents to promote their self-determination, self-advocacy, knowledge of resources and legal rights and autonomy in developing self-directed treatment and living opportunities.
  • Meet individually with men and women to provide educational resources and assist with making referrals and service connection to other agencies.
  • Conduct outreach and education sessions for people receiving mental health treatment inside correctional facilities.
  • Train incarcerated or formerly incarcerated workshop participants on health and disability rights and effective transition planning.

PRIORITY THREE: Advance systemic reform and leverage local governmental commitments to implement a public health model which provides for continuity of care and services with transparency and human rights and public health protections.
ULS aims to alter the policies and practices that are the source of the disproportionately high number of people with psychiatric disabilities behind bars. To that end, we will continue to partner with both public and private agencies to meet the following objectives:

  • Challenge the community’s reliance on incarceration, particularly in response to technical violations of community supervision.
  • Promote the inclusion of evidence-based treatment practices including Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and trauma-informed care within correctional and community services for individuals who have experienced traumatic events.
  • Improve discharge planning procedures at FBOP facilities and the DC Jail.
  • Convene meetings and forums to promote policies and practices to prepare pre-release applications and expedite access to social security benefits for incarcerated individuals with disabilities.
  • Promote APIC-based assessments of DC residents’ community care needs prior to release.
  • Advocate for independent living options for people with mental illness who need low-income housing and services and supports upon their return to the community.

Case Selection Criteria
The DC Jail & Prison Advocacy Project serves DC residents who meet all the following criteria:

  • Have a significant mental illness or emotional impairment as determined by a mental health professional;
  • Are or were incarcerated at the DC Jail, Correctional Treatment Facility, or within the FBOP (including Residential Reentry Centers, i.e., “halfway houses”) and
  • Are within 90 days of discharge back to DC and request assistance for problems that fall within the priorities listed above.

For more information about the DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project, please contact:
Tammy Seltzer, Director
DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project


DC Bar Foundation


The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation


Qlarant Foundation


The City Fund Safer, Stronger DC Community Opportunity Grants


DC Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants


Georgetown Law Post-Graduate Fellowships & Diversity


Syracuse University College of Law



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