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.
The modern tribal court is not an organic indigenous system. It is, in part, a product of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, a federal statute that rejected prior federal Indian policies of assimilation and land loss and promoted the reestablishment of tribal governments. 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, the typical tribal court mirrors the American adversarial system, complete with a focus on incarceration and poor recidivism rates.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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”
No 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.
For young kids, learning about careers usually means learning about teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers, etc. So, a couple of years ago, when my then six-year-old son asked me to describe what I do, I really had to think about it. As well as being the project director of the National Drug Court Resource Center, my work at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) encompasses other areas of the criminal justice policy field.
I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership over the past year—are leaders born or made? What’s the best way to grow as a leader? How can I inspire my team and guide JPO to new and greater successes? With it being Women’s History Month, my thoughts have also turned to what it means to me as a woman to be a leader and how can I best use the lessons I’ve learned as a woman working in male-dominated fields to mentor the women on my staff.
The Justice Programs Office (JPO), a center in the School of Public Affairs at American University, is delighted to welcome you to our blog. Check back weekly for insights from our staff on criminal justice issues of the day, our Friday roundup of the most relevant news articles from the past week, and updates on the latest happenings in our projects, such as the:
National Drug Court Resource Center, which equips drug court practitioners with a myriad of drug court resources, including evidence-based practices, training and technical assistance, publications, webinars, and a searchable online drug court map.
Right to Counsel National Campaign, a national public awareness campaign to inform and engage policymakers, criminal justice stakeholders, and the public on the importance of meaningfully carrying out the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the effective delivery of public defense services.
The Justice in Government Project, which provide strategic guidance to state and local officials seeking to leverage civil legal aid to achieve their policy and programmatic goals and ensure the maximum benefit from dollars spent on low- and moderate-income people and communities.
Please also consider writing for us. We welcome submissions from our friends and partners about issues related our work. JPO provides research, technical assistance, training, evaluation, and capacity-building services to jurisdictions, organizations, and government agencies throughout the United States and internationally to ensure the systems we rely on for justice are fair, effective, and driven by data. If you would like to be considered for our blog, please email JPOCommunications@american.edu.