Friday News Roundup: May 11, 2018

Friday News Roundup

A 2014 juvenile justice reform bill in Kentucky sees big reductions in youth incarceration four years later, San Diego Homeless Court offers relief from fines for those least able to afford them, and Los Angeles public defenders continue to protest the new head of the public defender agency due to lack of experience. Continue below to read these stories and more in the latest edition of the JPO Friday News Roundup.

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Drug Courts Are Treatment Courts

The Justice Programs Office is celebrating National Drug Court Month by sharing the personal perspectives of those who work in the treatment court field. Jeffrey Kushner, MPHA, the Statewide Drug Court Administrator for the State of Montana begins our series examining the important partnership between treatment providers and drug court teams. 

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Jeffrey N. Kushner, MPHA,
Statewide Drug Court Administrator, State of Montana

There are few services more difficult to provide than alcohol and other drug use treatment. In most instances we are, at least initially, dealing with individuals whose brains have been hijacked by powerful drugs. New drug court participants are often primarily interested in getting more and more of their drugs of choice and not in overcoming their problems. Treatment professionals, therefore, need all the help and support we can provide them in order to be most effective with our drug court participants. With over 50 years of experience in this field, it is very clear to me that by utilizing the resources of the criminal justice system and the treatment system we can improve success through the use of evidence-based practices rather than each system by itself.

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Friday News Roundup: May 4, 2018

Friday News Roundup

Meek Mill becomes a symbol of criminal justice reform after he is released from jail this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that provisions of Megan’s Law barring juveniles from seeking relief in their community reporting requirements is unconstitutional, and public defenders in New York continue to protest the courthouse arrests of undocumented clients by ICE. These stories and more in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup.

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The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts

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My first job after law school was in Pulaski County, Arkansas, as a special assistant prosecuting attorney in a problem-solving court that saw mental health and substance misuse clients who were a danger to themselves or others. At the time, I had never heard of a problem-solving court and was surprised by how the judge ran the court. It wasn’t like anything I’d seen on Law & Order. And yes, unfortunately, that was my only reference to an operating court after graduating from law school. The judge, Mary Spencer McGowan, ran a tight docket and was a no-nonsense judge, but she taught me more about humanity in the justice system, second chances, and procedural fairness than any other influence in my career. Continue reading “The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts”

Prison as Punishment, Not for Punishment

When an individual has completed their time in prison, they are expected to go back into the world and start rebuilding their lives. Trying to successfully reintegrate back into society with a criminal record is next to impossible. Individuals are severely limited in job opportunities, education, housing, and loans, among many other things. Second Chance Month is dedicated to highlighting the ways in which organizations are working, and we all can work, to create a bigger and brighter future for the 65 million Americans who are limited by their criminal records. They went to prison, served their time, and now it is our job to make sure they have a fair second chance.

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Friday News Roundup: April 27, 2018

Friday News Roundup

Oklahoma is set to give approval to several bills that will alleviate the state’s prison population and support state drug courts, one-third of low-income inmates in Mississippi spend 90 or more consecutive days in jail before trial, and Governor Phil Bryant blocks effort to give drug courts medication to combat opioid addiction. These stories and more in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup.

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Friday News Roundup: April 20, 2018

Friday News Roundup

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo promises to sign an executive order allowing parolees the right to vote, Connecticut becomes the first state to close all of its youth prisons, and San Diego attorney Steve Binder is recognized as “Community Hero” for the creation of Homeless Court Program in 1989. Read these stories and more below in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup.

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Friday News Roundup: April 13, 2018

Friday News Roundup

Every day we are bombarded with news and information on our feeds, social media accounts, on television, and in our email inboxes. It can be hard to decide between all of our obligations what is truly newsworthy and what is just noise. This weekly roundup pulls from across the internet to find the best and most interesting stories about treatment courts, juvenile justice, public defense, the right to counsel, and big news in the criminal justice world.

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Overcoming Stigma with Treatment Courts

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Sixty-five million Americans have a criminal record. That is 65 million people living with barriers to employment, education, housing, and other key assets needed to build a life. To raise awareness about the limits placed on formerly incarcerated people re-entering society, the Justice Programs Office (JPO) has joined other organizations in declaring April 2018 “Second Chance Month.” During my time at JPO, my work has focused on substance use issues, and I have witnessed the added stigma given to those with substance use disorders in the criminal justice system. Labeling a person as an “addict” and a “criminal” effectively reduces their humanity and serves as justification for denying them support services. This stigma is something treatment courts actively work against. These specialized court programs are designed to recognize the dignity of every person and provide them with an opportunity for a second chance.  Continue reading “Overcoming Stigma with Treatment Courts”