A book by Professor Kathleen Hale of Auburn university and published by Georgetown University Press in 2011, “How Information Matters”, has recently come to my attention. It’s an analysis of what it describes as the “Champion” Non-Profit Organization in its field. What does it have to do with reentry courts and court-based reentry systems. The answer is that it does and it doesn’t.
It 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. And I cannot agree more. I was there at the beginning of drug courts, as a drug court judge, and am still laboring in the fields, working to fulfill a vision that began for me, as first chair and then founding president of NADCP. In the beginning, we created the “Ten Key Components” and Drug Court Mentor Sites, and planned NADCP’s projects, initiatives and strategies; so I know that my fellow drug court pioneers feel as proud as I am of our accomplishments.
And those who came after us have truly done a superb job, in expanding drug courts and its progeny, problem-solving courts across the nation and around the world. They have built amazing public support for our “Champion” that has translated into much needed funding, and created wonderful new programs such as Veteran’s Courts, which thankfully are there to assist our Veterans in their time of need.
For me, it’s difficult to accept that my quest, the establishment of court-based reentry systems, that can staunch the flow of lives into our prisons, and salvage those that return broken, remains out of reach. I for one, salute all who have worked on our great labor of love, NADCP. But I long for this book’s sequel, the one that shows how we captured the holly grail of criminal justice, and achieved true prison reform through a partnership of the three C’s; Community, Corrections, and the Courts.
The NADCP Conference is history. Over 3000 participants and 3o workshop tracks over a 3 day period. The openning Plenary session was the most moving part of the Conference, with dozens of former addicts and their families giving testimonials on how drug court had changed their lives. Followed by presentations by Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson and her boss Attorney General Eric Holder. Both gave wonderful speeches in support of Drug courts and were cheered with great enthusism.
Which brought to mind the story of how NADCP got its start. In 1995, Laurie Robinson and I were both at a TASC Conference in Orlando, Florida. Laurie was Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). I was president of a fledgling non-profit organization made up of about a dozen drug court judges and working out of a file cabinet in my court chambers in Oakland, California. I had spoken to Laurie on previous ocassions, but knew her slightly.
When I ran into her at the hotel swimming pool, we talked about the conference briefly and then discussed the state of the Drug Court field. We agreed that Drug Courts were a grassroots phenomenum that needed to provide its own technical assistance through its own drug court professionals. By the time we had finished our conversation, Laurie had decided to provide funding for the development of drug court standards. That was the year that OJP funded “Defining Drug Courts: The Ten Key Components”, a document that became something of a bible to the field. Although the actual funding wasn’t a great deal of money, it was enough to get a fledgling organization, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, off the ground.
Over the years, besides being a partner in the creation of NADCP, Laurie has continued to be a strong supporter and persuasive advocate for drug courts and problem solving courts. I thought about that as 3000 plus gave her a well deserved standing ovation at the NADCP conference.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) made this important announcement in an email yesterday to thousands of its drug court and related practitioners/subscribers. “Designed to provide critical information to those interested in effective Reentry Court strategies, Reentry Court Solutions is a new national resource center dedicated to all things Reentry Courts.” Judge Jeffrey Tauber (ret.), Director of “Reentry Court Solutions” described his satisfaction with the the Resource Center’s first days. “I would like to thank NADCP for their collaboration and support in getting “Reentry Court Solutions” off the ground. We’ve had hundreds of contacts from all over the country and across the world. I believe that the launching of a “National Reentry Court Resource Center” marks the beginning of a new focus on the importance of the reentry court model in the criminal justice system”.