The Wild, Wild West of Addiction Treatment

Screenshot of an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on rehabilitation centers

Addiction is complex. Addiction treatment is even more so. John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight, provides an intriguing glimpse into some of the complexities of this industry during his May 20, 2018, episode.[1] I recently watched the episode, and even as someone whose work over the past five years has centered on drug treatment courts (including drug treatment), I was shocked. I found it hard to believe that the $34 billion treatment industry, an industry that includes over 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States, is effectively unregulated at the federal level with “no federal standards for counseling practices or rehab programs.”

Continue reading “The Wild, Wild West of Addiction Treatment”

From Student to Practitioner: My Time at NADCP 2018

Caroline at GraduationJust four years ago I was sitting with this exact (probably outdated, now) laptop trying to sell myself to American University’s admissions team. In my application, I vowed to engage in every opportunity possible to immerse myself in the criminal justice education I was pursuing. Four years later, I can proudly say that after completing three internships, graduating with University and Latin Honors, getting hired at the Justice Programs Office, and accepting a scholarship to attend the Washington College of Law (WCL), I have done just that. Now, after attending the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Annual Conference in Houston, I know I am ready to pursue my own legal career and advocate for these life-changing specialty dockets.

Continue reading “From Student to Practitioner: My Time at NADCP 2018”

One Person Can Change the World

IMG_3479

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination has me thinking a lot about our progress since then on the civil rights and social justice issues he championed. I’ve read that RFK spent more time than most politicians visiting areas of the country that faced issues he sought to change—like discrimination, labor rights, and poverty—to gain firsthand experience.

Continue reading “One Person Can Change the World”

Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Training at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference

Our juvenile drug treatment court team 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!

The OJJDP Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines Workshop: Kids Matter
Wednesday, May 30, 8:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. | 351 B/E
Trainers: Matthew Collinson, Evan Elkin, Bridgett Ortega, Jessica Pearce, Doris Perdomo-Johnson, Zoë Root, Wendy Schiller, Megan Ward, Jacqueline van Wormer

All juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) want to see the best outcomes for the youth in their programs, but until recently there hasn’t been a clear path to achieve this goal. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines provide courts with an outline of evidence-based practices shown to respond to the unique needs of adolescents and improve outcomes for youth. Join the Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, a project partnership of the Justice Programs Office at American University and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, for an in-depth training on how the Guidelines can shape a JDTC that is functional, developmentally appropriate, equitable, and results in youth living healthy and save lives.

The Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: The Big Picture, The Critical Details
Thursday, May 31 at 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. | 360 AD
Presenters: Zoë Root and Jacqueline van Wormer

 All juvenile drug treatment courts want to see the best outcomes for the youth in their programs, but until recently there hasn’t been a clear path to achieve this goal. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines provide courts with an outline of evidence-based practices shown to respond to the unique needs of adolescents and improve outcomes for youth. Join the Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, a project partnership of the Justice Programs Office at American University and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, for an overview of the key principals of the Guidelines.

Evidence-Based Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Juveniles
Thursday, May 31 at 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. | 360 AD
Presenter: Doris Perdomo-Johnson

It is well established that youth differ significantly from adults in brain development, affecting their behavior and risk-taking calculations. Join Doris Perdomo-Johnson, clinical research coordinator at the University of Miami, to learn how juvenile drug treatment courts (JDCTs) should apply an adolescent-based approach in the development of their policies and procedures and improve outcomes for the youth in their court. Ms. Perdomo-Johnson will explore the differences between adolescent and adult substance use, effective methods to address substance use during the teenage years, and ultimately the creation of a “culture of change, acceptance, and resilience” in JDTCs.

Prescription Opioid Use Among Youth and Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts with
Friday, June 1 at 1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. | 320 C
Presenter: Marc Fishman, MD

The rate of opioid use among teens may not be as high as in the adult population, but recent research has shown that youth are much more likely to experience negative outcomes from opioid misuse than adults. Dr. Marc Fishman will discuss prevention strategies for opioid misuse and how juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) can play a role in implementing those strategies. In addition, JDTC practitioners will receive training on how this public health concern could potentially affect the participants of their programs and how they should be prepared to respond.

 

Indigenizing the Drug Court

The Justice Programs Office is celebrating National Drug Court Month by sharing the personal perspectives of those who work in the treatment court field. Lauren van Schilfgaarde, Tribal Law Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, continues our series with a look at Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and their ability to heal both addictions and communities. 

headshot (1)The modern tribal court is not an organic indigenous system. It is, in part, a product of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934,[1] a federal statute that rejected prior federal Indian policies of assimilation and land loss and promoted the reestablishment of tribal governments.[2] Yet, the implementation of the Act meant tribal governmental structures needed to look and sound like Anglo institutions rather than traditional tribal ones. Furthered by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968,[3] the typical tribal court mirrors the American adversarial system, complete with a focus on incarceration and poor recidivism rates.

Continue reading “Indigenizing the Drug Court”

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. 

Jeffrey Kushner Picture
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.

Continue reading “Drug Courts Are Treatment Courts”

The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts

CureStigmaLogo

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.

Continue reading “Prison as Punishment, Not for Punishment”

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”

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 reentry. 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.

Continue reading “The Language of Second Chances”