Luck or Hard Work

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Last year, the annual National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) conference was held in Washington, D.C., in June.  The Justice Programs Office presents at the conference every year and we bring many of our resources with us to share with the treatment court field. One of the most popular tools is a thumb drive pre-loaded with a library of digital resources for drug court practitioners.  I attended the conference last year as a newly appointed Project Director for the National Drug Court Resource Center, a project funded by Bureau of Justice Assistance, and we had just completed the planning phase for many of the project’s initiatives.  During the conference, I came across a dollar that I deemed to be my drug court lucky dollar.  I have carried this dollar with me in my phone case over the last year and would like to share the successes we have had since.

First, our team has grown in exciting ways. We brought on board two Research Associates, Zephi Francis and Megan Ward, Associate Director for Communications, Dr. Elizabeth Krempley, and recently added Associate Director of Research, Dr. Julie Baldwin to the team.  As luck would have it, I met Dr. Baldwin at the NADCP conference last year for the first time where she presented on the veterans treatment court session that I moderated.  After the conference, the advisory committee for NDCRC’s publication The Drug Court Review decided to dedicate our first issue on veterans treatment courts.  Subsequently, we invited Dr. Baldwin to be the editor in chief of the review.  My lucky dollar seemed to have aligned some major stars for us.

Communication and coordination seems to be key to our success (along with my lucky dollar, of course).  We stay on top of latest research and their policy implications and communicate this to drug court practitioners.  We share updates with the field monthly through the NDCRC newsletter and a newly launched Veterans’ Justice and Mental Health newsletter.  We coordinate with StateNet, Lexus Nexus to provide the field with a tool that monitors all relevant legislative updates, and, using the same service, we added a legislative updates section to the veterans’ newsletter.  The creation of a podcast series, a new resource on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a series of resources on opioid use disorders, a tool that monitors all legislation relevant to the drug court field, and several expert-lead webinars are some recent examples of ways we aim to make drug court resources easily accessible to practitioners.

The topics for our podcast series, On the Docket with NDCRC, and our webinars are decided upon as a result of working closely with state drug court coordinator and listening to what the field needs. Our first podcast series featured family treatment courts.  The second series, which is currently being recorded, will provide insight into how treatment courts are combating the opioids crisis.  This will complement our latest webinar which addressed the nation’s opioid crisis and featured federal and local solutions.  The next webinar on Law Enforcement and Treatment Courts is planned for June 13 and will discuss best practices and strategies to engage law enforcement with treatment courts.

Was it luck or a self-fulling prophecy because we worked hard to achieve all our goals? I would like to think it’s a bit of both.  Either way, I am ready to pass on the luck and hard work to the next person who finds this dollar at the NADCP conference in Houston, Texas.  If you find it, please track your successes during the year and share them with us.  As for us, we will continue to listen, work hard, and provide resources to state and local drug courts.

Houston, here we come!

Preeti Menon is the Justice Programs Office’s senior associate director and project director of the National Drug Court Resource Center