I was asked by my wife’s friend a person known to be close to the Clinton transition team to provide recommendations in regard to reform of the criminal justice system and drug offenders. At the time, my wife’s friend was known to be a FFOB (a friend of a friend of Bill). I was even promised that the presidential candidate would read the papers themselves ( something I know now should have been pretty unbelievable, even for a neophyte from Oakland). What more could a trial judge from a small city in California hope for. I worked on these papers over the next six months, distilling everything I knew or thought I knew that was needed to begin the reform of how the criminal justice system dealt with the drug offender. These papers were submitted during the winter of 1993.
Incredibly, over the course of the Clinton Administration, relevant agencies embraced many of the reccomendations (though probably not based on the papers themselves or my subsequent advocacy as President of the fledgling National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). It turns out that the papers had the most substantial impact on me. I was hooked. The idea that you could change public policy (even at a glacial pace) became a driving motivation for the next 15 years, providing the impetus for my work on behalf of drug court and now, it’s progeny, the reentry court.