How NADCP got its start

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.

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