Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Treatment Courts

It’s no secret that substance use disorders are linked to mental health issues. According to SAMHSA, over 7.9 million Americans experience co-morbidity (two or more conditions at a time) with a mental and substance use disorder.[i] Drug courts are designed to bridge the gap between substance use treatment and the criminal justice system, but mental health treatment is often an overlooked link. For participants in drug courts nationwide, between one-quarter and one-half are referred to a mental health treatment provider for a co-occurring mental disorder.[ii] Unless drug courts begin to properly Mental Health spelled out in tilesaddress the mental health of the participants, they will not be resolving all underlying problems that led to criminal justice involvement for people with co-occurring disorders. Continue reading “Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Treatment Courts”

Friday News Roundup: January 11, 2019

Friday News Roundup

Happy New Year! This week in news – two notable individuals were released from prison after the First Step Act took effect, and on the basis of clemency; the opioid crisis strikes Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; and changes to juvenile justice systems across the country are in the works. All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup.

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The role of local institutions in the criminal justice reform debate

The truth of the common quip “all politics is local” has seemingly eroded in the last several years. The modern method of consuming news means our collective attention is squarely aimed at the actors we can all recognize or the systems which we are all familiar. We are less informed and less engaged in the issues in our own community. But whether or not the public is engaged, the American political system hinges on decentralized power spread over millions of jurisdictions. This is especially true of the criminal justice system. woman writting on boardDespite what is taught in high school civics classes, the justice system is not a single body or multiple bodies under a clear hagiarchy. Police, prisons, jails, public defenders, prosecutors, the judiciary, and the various ancillary services all operate independently with virtually no meaningful oversight or coordinated direction from a higher body. Each, however, can affect what justice looks likes in a community. Continue reading “The role of local institutions in the criminal justice reform debate”

Friday News Roundup: December 14, 2018

Friday News Roundup

The First Step Act, Congress’ criminal justice reform bill, will go up for a vote, cocaine overdoses add another dimension to a crisis of fatal overdoses in the ongoing opioid epidemic, and the Vera Institute of Justice shares a report stating that women are the fastest-growing prison population. All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup.

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Dignity in the Court

If I’m home at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday, the television is most likely tuned to Judge Mathis.  Greg Mathis is humorous, but a no-nonsense judge who oversees small claims cases in Chicago.  Don’t tell any lawyer but, I feel like I’ve earned an honorary law degree after watching this show for many years.  For many people, television is their only knowledge of the court system.  Although entertaining, these shows aren’t an accurate representation of real courtroom proceedings.  To learn more about the operations of a court, a treatment court specifically, I visited a docket in a Mid-Atlantic state.  Here is what I learned.

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A Culture of Community and Dignity

In 2017, I was pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at American University and needed a job. When I entered the university’s administration Headshot of Alexstaff recruiting program, I did not have much in mind beyond editing Excel spreadsheets. However, when an email told me that the Justice Programs Office (JPO) was hiring, I was excited to interview for a center within the School of Public Affairs, where I earned my undergraduate degree. I have always had a passion for public policy and working for the Justice Programs Office turned out to be an excellent complement to my studies. I’d like to share some of my favorite memories from working here. Continue reading “A Culture of Community and Dignity”

The Leadership Legacy of President George H.W. Bush

Former President George HW BushWith former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral this week, my thoughts have turned towards leadership again. I’ve been inspired by his leadership style throughout the years since it seems to be themed around the person. I’m from the South, so the art of weaving conversation through work, personal, and even political is something I cherish. Bush also seems to understand that a personal touch is crucial to leading effectively.

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