Overcoming Stigma with Treatment Courts

Hand on a Chain Link Fence

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”

Friday News Roundup: April 6, 2018

Friday News Roundup Graphic – Twitter Post

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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The Language of Second Chances

Photo of handsNo one deserves to be labeled for the rest of their lives for an act they did at their lowest or toughest moment, I’ve heard many say recently when talking about re-entry. Colleagues in the criminal justice system have been talking about reentry initiatives for nearly two decades, and yet our successes are hit and miss. We still have a long way to go to overcome the collateral consequences that follow too many formerly incarcerated individuals when they return home.

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Friday News Roundup: March 30, 2018

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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5 Striking Tweets that Honor #GideonAt55

March 18, 2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case. This seminal Supreme Court decision ruled that the accused have right to counsel in all criminal cases if they cannot afford one, even on the state level. We asked partner organizations and those on social media to share with us how this decision has shaped the state of public defense 55 years later using the hashtag #GideonAt55.

Compiled here are some of the most moving or informative posts shared during this important month. These posts not only remind us to think back to the important day in 1963 when the right to counsel was assured for millions of Americans but to think and act in ways that make Gideon’s promise a reality.

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Friday News Roundup: March 23, 2018

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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Revolutionary Empathy

“No touching!” the corrections officer yelled at me, pointing at my outstretched hand as I sat down in the attorney interview room across from my client Raphael. “Oh right, sorry!” I snatched my hand away quickly. In my first year as a public defender, I had a hard time “un-learning” my natural instincts about how human interaction should work. On this occasion, I was meeting with Raphael at Rikers Island to interview him for a letter I was writing to the judge about why she should give Raphael a shorter jail sentence for his heroin possession case than the DA was recommending. Continue reading “Revolutionary Empathy”

Honoring #GideonAt55

Today, March 18, 2018, is the 55th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright. The struggle of Clarence Earl Gideon to obtain defense counsel, and his fight to affirm his right to counsel regardless of means, cemented the Sixth Amendment right that if a person cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided. Public defense access has improved since the Gideon decision, but the public defense system struggles from chronic underfunding, inconsistent standards for public defense eligibility and quality depending on the state, and a lack of support for training and resources for public defenders.

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