CONFERENCE SPOTLIGHT: Award-Winning Documentary to Illuminate the Intersection of the Criminal Justice System and Mental Illness

A highly anticipated session at NASJE’s upcoming annual conference in Vermont is a plenary session built around the award-winning documentary God Knows Where I Am, a film that personalizes the intersection of the criminal justice system and mental illness. In advance of its theatrical release, conference attendees will have an opportunity to view the documentary and discuss its relevance to judicial branch educators.

The body of a homeless woman is found in an abandoned New Hampshire farmhouse. Beside the body lies a diary that documents a journey of starvation and the loss of sanity, but told with poignancy, beauty, humor, and spirituality. For nearly four months, Linda Bishop, a prisoner of her own mind, survived on apples and rain water, waiting for God to save her, during one of the coldest winters on record. As her story unfolds from different perspectives, including her own, we learn about our systemic failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

The film will be debriefed by Judge Steven Leifman from Florida, recipient of NCSC’s 2015 William Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, and Joan Bishop, retired New Hampshire Director of Judicial Branch Education and sister of the subject of the movie. Judge Leifman will then delve into how to address the issues surrounding mental illness and the courts, drawing on his groundbreaking work in changing the approach of the justice system to people with mental illnesses. The role of judicial branch educators in this context will be examined.

God Knows Where I Am has won a number of awards from prominent film festivals. Get more information about the film including a trailer. See more on Judge Leifman’s work.

This engaging, germane session is another great reason to attend NASJE’s Annual Conference in beautiful Vermont September 25-28. Register for the conference now – an early bird discount is available through August 15.