Drug Treatment Courts Should Take Notice of Evolving Views on Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization

A marijuana leaf. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization is not a new issue. In one way or another, policy makers have been grappling with it since the 1970s. With election politics starting to heat up in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, the issue is again being thrust into the spotlight. The vast majority of democratic candidates have taken positions and proposed policies that – to differing degrees – seek to reform the way the US criminal justice system sanctions recreational marijuana use.[1]

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Friday News Roundup: June 7, 2019

Friday News Roundup

This week in the news: Read about the newly proposed bill that, if passed, would allow people incarcerated in Washington, DC to vote while in prison; a study done on police Facebook accounts; a new housing affordability plan meant to alleviate prohibitors to obtaining housing for formerly incarcerated individuals; juvenile justice taking place in Arizona and California; and more.

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Reflecting on Managing Caseflow While Ensuring Effective Counsel

Team of judges and court administrators at the meeting.Last week, in partnership with the National Association for Court Management and supported by the State Justice Institute, the Justice Programs Office, Right to Counsel team held a meeting with judges and court administrators on how to enhance caseflow management to ensure effective assistance of counsel. I was excited to convene this passionate group of court leaders and hear what they had to say on the topics of caseflow management and effective assistance of counsel, yet was unsure how the conversation would go. I wasn’t completely convinced that enough people would find enough to talk about and stay engaged in over the two days, or if everyone would buy into this exploration of the tension between processing cases quickly while simultaneously allowing for and encouraging effective assistance of counsel. Well, let me tell you—I was proved wrong—the sustained energy, thoughtfulness, and critical thinking that manifested during the meeting and extended into an evening reception was beyond my highest expectations.

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Building Blocks to Success – Celebrating Achievements in Your Drug Court

A sea of graduating students

Almost seven years ago, New York Times columnist Allina Tugend wrote an insightful column on redefining success, quoting author Katrina Kenison: “There’s a beauty in cultivating an appreciation for what we already have.” This National Drug Court Month, I wanted to congratulate all Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC) practitioners on your tireless work and encourage you to cultivate an appreciation of what you have accomplished; to think beyond the traditional measures of success, specifically the expectation we place on our participants to graduate.

Almost every time I travel to work with a JDTC, I end up telling this same story. It’s not even my own, it’s Dr. Jaqueline Van Wormer’s, but it’s a good one, so I’m going to share it with you:

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Let’s Get Your History

Preeti Menon and colleague, Zephi Francis outside of court house.On recent visits to three drug courts in three different states, the concept of moving away from a traditional cookie-cutter approach to treatment for participants came up. In several conversations, drug court teams discussed the idea of working with participants to identify and better understand their unique needs. From that inquiry and conversation, drug court teams could develop a treatment plan tailored to the participant’s unique individual history, circumstances, and needs.

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