Update for the Month of February 2024

by Board President Al Galves



Shield Program

We are working on two active Shield campaigns:

1. Dawn Dziuba (pronouns: she/her) is an attorney who has been forcibly held at Forensic Treatment Center South in St. Louis, Missouri for nine years. She believed that her colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis were unlawfully using federal funds and blew the whistle, which resulted in her being arrested for allegedly trespassing and threatening them. She was not tried because the court found her incompetent. Instead the court imposed a guardian on her: Sean Rapp, the public administrator of the city of St. Louis. She has been psychiatrically incarcerated ever since. The Shield helped appoint Dawn a new public defender, William Catlett, who has filed a motion to terminate her guardianship.

Thanks to Dawn’s academic ally Yulia Mikhailova, we have also raised money to pay for a psychiatric evaluation that will hopefully provide evidence to terminate the guardianship. Unfortunately, however, her hearing scheduled for November 2023 was canceled and is currently being rescheduled.

2. And Steiner (pronouns: it/its) is a human rights activist who is being forcibly held at a forensic ward at Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts despite having never been accused nor convicted of any crime. Staff were threatening to discharge it to a group home instead of honoring its request to be transferred to a non-forensic unit at another hospital so that it can stabilize before being discharged, as this ward has only worsened its chronic suicidality by subjecting it to verbal abuse and physical assault from other patients.

Together with other advocates, members of the Shield have helped prevent a forced group home discharge from happening and have also helped And become free of punitive restrictions such as the confiscation of its electronic devices. We’re now working with And to advocate for its right to seek stability in a safer clinical environment as it has requested.

Judi’s Room

Following is a list of upcoming webinars on Judi’s Room.

  1. Wednesday, February 7th: Peer Respites: Putting Disability Justice Into Practice with Lance Hicks and Amanda Hill from Detroit Peer Respite and Shulamith Acevedo and Jasmine Quinones from the Kiva Centers in Massachusetts
  2. Wednesday, March 6th: Ron Bassman, Kristina Kapp, and Peter Stastny on Survivors and Families Empowered (SAFE)
  3. Wednesday, April 3rd: Rob Wipond, journalist and author of Your Consent Is Not Required: The Rise in Psychiatric Detentions, Forced Treatment and Abusive Guardianships

International Peer Respite/Soteria Summit

MindFreedom has taken on the job of building on the momentum created by the International Peer Respite/Soteria Summit that took place on the five Sundays of October 2021. One way we do that is our Mentoring Circle. The Mentoring Circle is an opportunity for people who have founded and operated peer respites and Soteria houses to mentor people who want to create them in their own communities. It meets at 5 PM Eastern Time on the second Wednesday of every month. If you would like to attend, please send a message to Kathy Laws at kathylaws33@gmail.com.

Shield Volunteer Recruitment

Board member Jim Gottstein and our office staff will host a Zoom meeting to recruit prospective volunteers for the MindFreedom Shield Program on Tuesday, March 19th at 1 PM Eastern Time. If you would like to volunteer and can attend, please register in advance.


If you support MindFreedom’s work, donations will be greatly appreciated. Click here to donate.