EXCERPT NO. 6: CREATING A SCIENCE-BASED INSTITUTE; 1998

Being the best advocacy organization and lobbying outfit in town takes you just so far. In late 1997, I began to advocate for the creation of the NATIONAL DRUG COURT INSTITUTE (NDCI), that would move NADCP towards a more science and research based approach.

 Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, Former Chair of NADCP, (now U.S. Senator) Claire McCaskill, and NADCP Founder Judge Jeffrey Tauber speak at Ceremony announcing formation og National Drug Court Institute at the White House, Dec. 10, 1997

Ceremony at Roosevelt Room of White House Announcing Establishment of the NADCP National Drug Court Institute (NDCI). In photo, Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, Former Chair of NADCP, (now U.S. Senator) Claire McCaskill, and NADCP Founder Judge Jeffrey Tauber; Dec. 10, 1997

AN INTRODUCTION TO AN “OH SO FAMILIAR” STRANGER

I was to be introduced to Martin Sheen, who was scheduled to be our celebrity speaker at the close of the D.C. Conference of 98’. I found him sitting over coffee with another man, before Martin was to go on stage. The man looked familiar. I thought him a D.A. or Probation officer from back home, in Oakland, California. His name was Tom Gorham and he was an associate of Dr. Davida Coady, an epidemiologist who ran the Options, Inc., treatment program in Berkeley.

Tom cheerfully introduced himself as a frequent flyer on Alameda County Courts’ Drug and Alcohol Merry-Go-Round. It was only then that I realized that this impressive well-dressed person was the same man who had appeared slovenly and unkempt in court on drug and/or alcohol charges on dozens of occasions over the years. He had only recently found sobriety through Judge Carol Brosnahan’s Berkeley Rehabilitation Program run through Options, Inc. He had graduated from Options, Inc. and was currently a counselor, under the direction of Dr. Davida Coady.

The truly remarkable part of this story, is that Tom went on to become the CEO of Options, received his Doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling, and was married to his mentor, Dr. Davida Coady, by then Drug Court Judge Carol Brosnahan at her home in Berkeley.

Though an extraordinary tale, it made me think of the tens of thousands of offenders (if not hundreds of thousands) that are misdiagnosed by judges, district attorneys, defense counsel, probation officers and treatment providers. It reminded me that I, nor my brethren were seers, and that I often made serious errors of judgment about an offender’s potential for successful rehabilitation.

Finally, it reinforced my commitment to involve NADCP in developing scientific approaches to our courts. So they could do a better job at diagnosing the levels of drug abuse and criminality of drug court participants, and provide for their rehabilitation. It was in an odd way, a wake up call, reminding me that the courts needed to be science-based, and systems-oriented (or what is now called evidence-based) in their sentencing decisions, relying on scientific tools and analysis to assist in doing this critical work.

PLANNING A SCIENCE-BASED NATIONAL DRUG COURT INSTITUTE

From almost the beginning of NADCP, I had pictured some arm of the organization dedicated to academic endeavors, evaluations, and research projects. It was a side of NADCP that was clearly missing.

After our ’97 Conference in D.C., I took stock of what had been accomplished. NADCP was clearly on the map in D.C. It had supporters both in the leadership of both democratic and republican parties. We had more than doubled federal drug court funding over the previous year; we were increasing the number of drug courts exponentially; we were creating partnerships with state organizations and judicial and executive agencies, our conferences and mentor site trainings were breaking new ground and pulling the field together, and now we had our own offices and an expanded staff.

The one area where we had not made much headway was in establishing NADCP as a source for credible research and scientific information. We also weren’t doing the sophisticated training and education in the field that we needed to. To some extent, research, education, and information resources were flowing to American University’s Justice Program, because it had a university’s imprimatur. We needed to somehow create our own certificate of approval.

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EXCERPT NO. 8: REACHING BEYOND DRUG COURT; 2000

By the end of 1999, NADCP/NDCI had become a Washington Institution, and the undisputed leader of the Drug Court World. In 2000, we expanded NADCP/NDCI’s influence into other criminal justice reform areas. Most importantly we achieved acceptance and support from all fifty state chief justices in a unanimous resolution that institutionalized drug courts across the nation. At the same time, my tenure as NADCP/NDCI’s leader was coming to a close.

Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey receives award from NADCP Founder Judge Jeffrey Tauber at 5th Annual National Conference

Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is presented with an award by NADCP Founder Judge Jeffrey Tauber, for his support in starting NDCI, at the 5th Annual NADCP National Conference.

A BANNER YEAR FOR NADCP/NDCI

NADCP and NDCI had an extraordinary year in 2000. I designed and supervised the first Discipline-Based Judicial Officer Trainings which served as a model for other Discipline-Based Trainings to come (receiving a 6.57 on a 1 to 7 rating continuum). With West managing the non-judicial trainings, NDCI delivered twelve discipline-based, video-intensive weeklong drug court training programs in 2000, for over 600 practitioners from 47 states and nations abroad.

Based on the success of the Discipline Based Trainings, the Department of Justice funded nineteen three-part workshops for fifty-seven (57) jurisdictions across the nation (each jurisdictional team composed of six to eight members), that proved to be nearly as successful.

Publications were being distributed across the nation on an average of one per month. The Research Agenda was moving forward in the development of standardized tools for drug court researchers and practitioners. NADCP’s reached out to other fields and their practitioners and achieved a high level of collaboration and cooperation across the nation. Participants at our National Conference totaled 3,300 (a number we were not to repeat for nearly a decade).

In 2012, Professor Kathleen Halle, of Auburn University, devoted her book on exceptional non-profit organizations, “How Information Matters”, entirely to the startup of NADCP, the “Champion” of NGOs”. She found NADCP “to be the best among extraordinary organizations; “whose structure, initiatives, strategies, and planning define excellence in the non-profit world.”

PROBLEM-SOLVING: EVOLVING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

I believed that we were at the center of a movement with broader parameters than the drug court model. The more I became aware of the realities of the criminal justice system, the more I became convinced that NADCP/NDCI could provide assistance and guidance to other related courts and fields that were beginning to develop. A plethora of specialty courts were being modeled after the drug court that would be in need of assistance (i.e., DUI, Reentry, Domestic Violence, Elder, Homeless, as well as, Family and Juvenile Drug Courts).

It was obvious that drug court models would be most effective if they reached those most in need, many of which were in state and federal prison systems. I was particularly interested in the possibility of the drug court model being used with non-drug offenders. I saw the development of NDCI, our science and research based arm, as a means of shifting gears toward broader national policy goals, as well as trainings with more sophisticated and effective techniques. [Our practitioner based trainings and monograph reflected that perspective.]

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EXCERPT NO. 9: REENTERING THE REAL WORLD; 2001

2001 was a difficult year. The only good part for me was that I was weaning myself away from my 80 hour workweek. I had my music to return to and for that I was grateful. I played my tenor saxophone and harmonica in a number of bands around the D.C. area (and on many a night, played solo jazz saxophone to the seagulls on the Alexandria Pier).

The conflict and duality of NADCP Founding President Judge Jeffrey Tauber

Expressing the duality of law and music in a life; NADCP Founding President Jeffrey Tauber (Photo Art by Frank Tapia)

 

RESIGNATION FROM NADCP/NDCI

NADCP had become the organization I had dreamed of building, an accepted Institution, a part of the Washington Establishment. I intended to develop projects dealing with Reentry from Prison, DUI Offenses, and Sentencing Systems that went beyond the Drug Court idiom. But the reality was that since the 2000 Conference in San Francisco, I was virtually handcuffed by the Board, under constant scrutiny, with almost no opportunity to move ahead on new projects; in essence a lame-duck President.

Before the end of year 2000 it became clear that senior staff members had wrested control of the dialogue with the Board, and were not going to let go until they got what they were after, my resignation. I decided it was best for me to concede the inevitable and accept “early retirement”.

I submitted my resignation from the Presidency of NADCP, to take effect in early 2001. I would remain as President at least in name, until a new President took over. I also co-chaired a committee screening for my successor.

I knew that West needed to stay at NADCP and that his outsized charm and drive would keep NADCP as a major presence in the field, but his possible selection as a successor was never in issue. There were too many fresh accusations floating around about his stewardship of NDCI and he was too young and new to the job to vie for that position. I never did get to the bottom of the rumors swirling around West. At the time, I believed them to be spread by jealous colleagues that were piqued by his quick ascension to crown prince of NADCP.

When I first told West of my intention to resign, he appeared stricken. He argued against it and when I wouldn’t budge, he proposed that the two of us set up our own organization. I was moved by his offer, but I knew that it would be a mistake. I didn’t want to further weaken NADCP by removing its two mainstays, (and truthfully I didn’t want to compete with or diminish the organization I had worked so hard to create). I remained on the Board of NADCP as an Emeritus member, to monitor the organization, and help West stay on his leadership track.

HELPING TO CHOOSE MY SUCCESSOR

My last significant responsibility at NADCP was to assist in the selection of its new CEO (the board decided that my successor would not be a President, but a more malleable CEO). I screened dozens of résumés with members of a Board selection committee. Most of the applicants appeared to be limited in experience, expertise, and background.

We ultimately came down to a single applicant who appeared to have the drug court background required (she had been Gary, Indiana’s first Drug Court Judge), and had a promising low-key managerial style more in keeping with NADCP’s increasingly bureaucratic structure. With Judge Karen Freeman-Wilson’s ascension to the leadership of NADCP, I began to look for other avenues for my energies. Continue reading

EXCERPT NO. 10: THE MEANING OF ONE’S LEGACY

Sometimes life gives a person the opportunity to do something truly extraordinary. I saw an opportunity, took it; accepting the challenge, risking all, sacrificing much, to move the drug court field as far as possible.

reentrycourt

Reentry Court participants congratulate first Reentry Court graduation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NADCP AND DRUG COURTS TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Drug Courts (and their progeny Problem-Solving Courts) have had a profound effect upon the criminal justice system and the attitudes of those in it, as well as the media, and the public in general

I think it fair to suggest that the reform movements of the past decade, to decriminalize drug use, turn offenders away from prisons towards alternative sentencing, and emphasize reentry resources, all owe their success (at least in part) to the positive environment that drug courts have helped create over the past twenty five years.

There could be no better testimonial as to how far drug courts have come in changing the national dialogue than President Obama’s special reference to “Drug Courts”, in his major criminal justice reform speech of July 14th 2015, “We should invest in alternatives to prison, like Drug Courts and treatment and probation.”

NADCP itself, waxes eloquent when it talks about the progress it and the Drug Court Movement have made over the past twenty years (see: http://www.nadcp.org/learn/about-nadcp) “Today with 2,734 Drug Courts and another 1,122 problem-solving courts (mental health courts, community courts, reentry courts, DWI courts, etc.) in operation, NADCP has forever changed the face of the justice system. As the premiere national resource for Drug Court practitioners, NADCP established a specialized Institute in December 1997. Today, the “National Drug Court Institute” is the preeminent source for comprehensive training and cutting-edge technical assistance to the entire Drug Court Field. Since its inception, the institute has trained 36,641 drug court professionals in all 50 states and U.S. territories as well as seven countries and developed 37 publications, disseminating them to 456,166 professionals worldwide.”

NADCP has admirers in the academic world as well; Professor Kathleen Hale of Auburn University in her book, “How Information Matters (Georgetown University Press, 2011) focuses entirely on NADCP, the “Champion” Non-Profit Organization in Washington D.C. Professor Hale describes the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) as “the best among extraordinary organizations; whose structure, initiatives, strategies, and planning define excellence in the non-profit world.”

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