New Assessment Tool Aims to Help Treatment Courts Identify Racial Bias

Diverse people group

The upcoming presidential election, the 25th anniversary of the federal 1994 crime bill, and the enactment of the First Step Act, have rekindled the national debate on the urgent need for criminal justice reform at the federal level.

But much of the work to reform the criminal justice system is happening at the state and local level. State prisons house 1.3 million of the 2.3 million people confined nationwide (88% at the state level and 12% at the federal level); and that population is disproportionately people of color. However, state courts are finding that the mass incarceration model is expensive and does little to enhance public safety or reduce crime.

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The Right to Graduate Treatment Court: How Gender-Specific Treatment Plans Are Necessary to Address Graduation Disparities

woman with a pink hat and the text gender equalityOn August 26th Women’s Equality Day is celebrated. Initially chosen in commemoration of the passing of the 19th Amendment that enshrined a woman’s right to vote, Women’s Equality Day has become a yearly celebration of the history of woman’s suffrage as well as a “pledge to continue fighting for equality for women and girls.”[i] In respect of that, this month’s blog post covers some of the issues women face in their experiences within treatment courts.

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Offering Support and a Chance at Recovery

An image of a courtroom.I first learned about the issues that can arise with the over-consumption of alcohol in a freshmen seminar in college. Before that, I had no formal introduction or training on the negative consequences that can result from drinking and driving. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) are increasingly becoming a national issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017.”1 People who are proven guilty of DUI/DWI can then end up in treatment courts.

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Spring is a Time for Renewal and for Second Chances

Graphic for National Second Chance Month. It’s finally spring and April – a month our criminal justice community has dedicated as Second Chance Month. At JPO, we join our community in bringing attention to the importance of second chances and the need to ensure that those impacted by the criminal justice system gain opportunities to restore their voting rights, find employment, get a driver’s license, have their record(s) expunged, and more. Continue reading “Spring is a Time for Renewal and for Second Chances”

A Social Work Professor Serves the Court

What’s celebrated in March? In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, Women’s History Month, and National Criminal Justice Month, we also celebrate Social Work Month. In honor of the many contributions social work has made to treatment Photograph of Dr Annecourts, I decided to highlight a person whose work is beneficial to the practices and procedures of treatment courts. Dr. Anne Dannerbeck Janku is an associate research professor at the University of Missouri. For almost two decades, she has conducted research on racial and ethnic disparities in treatment courts. Continue reading “A Social Work Professor Serves the Court”

Veteran Mentors in Veterans Treatment Court: Engage, Encourage, Empower

Over the past decade, veterans treatment courts have transformed the way the justice system identifies, assesses, and responds to veterans. One of the keys to veterans treatment court’s success has been the inclusion of veterans from the community who serve as mentors to their fellow veterans in crisis.

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Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Treatment Courts

It’s no secret that substance use disorders are linked to mental health issues. According to SAMHSA, over 7.9 million Americans experience co-morbidity (two or more conditions at a time) with a mental and substance use disorder.[i] Drug courts are designed to bridge the gap between substance use treatment and the criminal justice system, but mental health treatment is often an overlooked link. For participants in drug courts nationwide, between one-quarter and one-half are referred to a mental health treatment provider for a co-occurring mental disorder.[ii] Unless drug courts begin to properly Mental Health spelled out in tilesaddress the mental health of the participants, they will not be resolving all underlying problems that led to criminal justice involvement for people with co-occurring disorders. Continue reading “Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Treatment Courts”

You’re Hired

Students at Edwins laughing in kitchen
Credit: Lara Talevski

If you’ve looked for a job in the last decade, there is a great chance that Indeed was your go-to search engine. With just a few clicks, thousands of vacant job opportunities were at your fingertips. Granted, many other job-seeking candidates applied for those same employment opportunities. According to Interview Success Formula, on average, companies receive 118 applications for each new position. I think it’s safe to say that the job market is competitive.  It’s even harder for treatment court participants who may have a lack of education, limited skills, and/or a substance use disorder.

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Heard but Rarely Seen

IMG_2375My role at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) is to be heard but rarely seen. I am not asked to go to conferences and present on the constitutional right to counsel. I am certainly not going out into the field to provide training and technical assistance to adult and juvenile treatment courts. But you have probably seen my Friday News Roundup or read my social media posts. I liken my role at JPO to a spotlight. I use my writing abilities and communications knowledge to shine a light on the fantastic work that JPO does and on the talented people that work here.

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