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.

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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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Join us at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Annual Conference

NDCRC is excited to join our partners and friends at the National Association of Drug Court Professional Annual Conference (NADCP). Don’t miss out on the workshops we are hosting!

Effective Communication and Media for Drug Courts
Wednesday, May 30, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | 320 A
Panelists: Dr. Elizabeth Krempley, Megan Ward
Implementing a few simple communications practices can have outsized benefits for your treatment court. Telling your organization’s story well can improve community support for your program, increase enrollment, and raise your profile among potential funders. Join American University’s Justice Programs Office’s Elizabeth Krempley, Associate Director for Communications, and Megan Ward, Program Associate, to learn practical communications strategies and procedures for drug courts! This workshop will cover how to craft your program’s message, how to use social media to share your message, and how to engage with reporters and traditional media.

The 2017 Drug Court Review: A Discussion with the Authors
Wednesday, May 30, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | 371 B/E
Moderator: Preeti Menon; Panelists: Dr. Julie Baldwin, Dr. John Gallagher, Dr. Paul Lucas
NDCRC publishes an annual scholarly journal for the treatment court field, focusing on relevant and timely issues. This year’s Drug Court Review is centered around the study of veterans treatment courts (VTCs).  Select authors of articles of this special issue will discuss their research and emergent topics within the VTC field.

Judicial Leadership: What They Don’t Teach You When Taking the Bench (for Judges and Those Who Work Closest with Them)
Thursday, May 31, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.  | Grand Ballroom B
Moderator: Preeti Menon; Panelists: Hon. Robert Russell, Hon. Tim Marcel, Hon. Eric Mehnert, Hon. Kevin Burke
After years of law school, practicing law, and serving on the bench, judges are well versed in the law. However, being an effective leader within the treatment court field comes with its own unique set of challenges and requisite skills. It is all too common for judges to be put in the position to lead these innovative programs without any formal education or training in program management or leadership. This session will cover skill building for judges in leadership, vision development, and effective communication.

Prosecutors and Defenders as Adversaries and Allies
Friday, June 1, 1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Grand Ballroom C
Moderator: Zephi Francis; Panelists: Jenny Semmel, Ginger James, Pam Loh, Jonathan Schetky
The role of a prosecutor and defender fluctuate from adversaries to teammates in a drug treatment court setting. This session will provide attendees an opportunity to hear from court adversaries about collaborating and shifting their roles to best serve participants while adhering to the drug court model. This session will provide a medium for prosecutors and defenders to discuss challenges often encountered when working together toward a common goal of participant graduation.

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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Defense Doesn’t End at Disposition

April is “Second Chance Month,” and JPO is proud to partner with Prison Fellowship and other organizations to celebrate it. In this blog post, we explore the role public defense providers play in helping their clients achieve second chances.

When I first joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) as an investigator, my understanding of the roles of defense attorneys and investigators was limited and confined by the courtroom; I thought that defense attorneys and investigators worked on behalf of their clients during the pre-trial phase, trial, and that their work concluded at case disposition. At the conclusion of one case, attention turned to the next client, and the cycle began again. It was only after I began my journey at PDS that I learned about the powerful impact defense attorneys play after case disposition and in reentry. Continue reading “Defense Doesn’t End at Disposition”