February 2021
What's Happening at NDCRC?
To kick off the new year, the Advisory Board met on January 29 to review the plans and goals for the NDCRC in 2021! The Board is composed of representatives from all treatment team roles, and their expertise shapes our vision to meet the needs of treatment court professionals. In our most recent meeting, they advised the development of the Resources by Team Role web page, gave feedback on website navigation, and approved themes and structure for the next two volumes of the Drug Court Review journal.

Episode 4 of the Justice to Healing podcast is in the works! Our next discussion is on the importance of recovery capital, the resources that a person needs to sustain recovery. Join the conversation on our Justice to Healing discussion board!
Beyond the Field
Each month the NDCRC will feature a topic relevant to the work of treatment courts. This information is designed to give you “food for thought” regarding your treatment court program's structure and operations and provide supporting multimedia resources.
Compassion Fatigue

by Dr. Kristen DeVall, Co-Director, NDCRC

Compassion is defined as “the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself…and a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering” (Engel, 2008). Given that treatment courts are an application of therapeutic jurisprudence (see Winick & Wexler, 2015) and seek to facilitate the rehabilitation process, all team members (e.g., prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, law enforcement representatives, case managers, probation/parole agents, etc.) should display compassion when interacting with participants.

We know that the work of treatment court practitioners can be both rewarding and challenging. On one had treatment courts facilitate change within individuals who may have repeatedly cycled through the criminal justice system. However, asking team members to embody principles of therapeutic jurisprudence generally and compassion more specifically may run contrary to previous schooling and/or training. For example, Norton, Johnson, & Woods (2016) highlight the challenges lawyers may experience given their law school training (e.g., Socratic method) and the structure of the legal profession (e.g., adversarial system). This reality underscores the need to be mindful of a phenomenon titled “compassion fatigue” (or secondary trauma). Compassion fatigue has been defined as “’the cost of caring’ for those in professions that regularly see and care for others in pain and trauma” (Grant, Lavery, & Decarlo, 2019:1).

Dr. Françoise Mathieu’s TEDx Talk “The Edge of Compassion” addresses strategies for sustaining both compassion and empathy for others.

In order to maintain fidelity to the treatment court model, it is imperative that all team members are operating in accordance with the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence and are mindful of how compassion fatigue (or secondary trauma) manifests itself and what it “looks” like. This level of awareness among treatment court practitioners will allow for course correction should they experience the “psychological and physical effects of exposure to the pain, distress, or injustice suffered by clients” (Norton, Johnson, & Woods, 2016:988).

Additional readings on the topic of compassion fatigue are provided below and we hope you will join us on NDCRC’s Beyond the Field discussion board for continued dialogue about the topic.

Engel, B. (2008, April 29). “What is Compassion and How Can It Improve My Life? Psychology Today

Grant, H.B., Lavery, C.F., & Decarlo, J. (2019). “An Exploratory Study of Police Officers: Low Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue: Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1-5. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02793

Norton, L. Johnson, J. & Woods, G. (2016). “Burnout and Compassion Fatigue: What Lawyers Need to Know.” UMKC Law Review, 84(4): 987-1002.

Winick, Bruce J. and Wexler, David B. (2015) "Drug Treatment Court: Therapeutic Jurisprudence Applied," Touro Law Review, 18(3)

Related Upcoming Training

Justice Clearinghouse
Date: Tuesday, April 6 @ 1-2:15pm (EST)
Funding Opportunities Deadline: March 31, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET
JustGrants Application Deadline: April 14, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET
Feb. 2 Webinar recording coming soon: deadline: April 13, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET
JustGrants application deadline: April 27, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET

NOTE: OJJDP has cancelled the solicitations listed below due to a technical issue in JustGrants. OJJDP is working on the issue and intends to repost these solicitations as soon as it is resolved. Applicants who have already applied will be notified of the issue and invited to reapply.

  • FY2021 Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program
  • FY2021 Family Drug Court Program
TTA Collaborative Updates
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Journal for Advancing Justice Volume 3 Cover
Journal For Advancing Justice Vol. III: Emerging Best Practices in Law Enforcement Deflection and Community Supervision Programs

In its third volume released in January, NADCP’s Journal For Advancing Justice outlines data and research behind evidence-based and promising practices taking shape in law enforcement and community supervision agencies around the country. Through a range of articles written by both researchers and practitioners, the newest edition provides insight and analysis to assist justice system professionals and scholars in identifying promising programs and interventions, as well as areas that require further investigation to solidify them as best practices.
Center for Court Innovation
The Center for Court Innovation learned about restorative approaches to crime and conflict from Native American practitioners in whose communities peacemaking has been practiced for generations. We are deeply grateful to our many Native mentors, especially from the Navajo Nation, who taught us about kinship in this work. We are also grateful to our trainers from across the country who taught us the foundations of circle practice and who walked us through the real-life challenges of implementation. These teachings have allowed us to pilot restorative justice programs in different arenas and study how centering relationships restores communities. Read about these programs in CCI’s latest fact sheet, Restorative Justice at the Center.
Tribal Law & Policy Institute
The Tribal Law & Policy Institute hosts a variety of topic-specific publications as they relate to Tribal communities. This series on Planning for Reentry covers tips, resources, and concerns on employment and expungement for those who are going through the reentry process.
Featured State

Maine’s Adult Drug Treatment Courts enhance public safety and improve lives at no additional cost to taxpayers. That is the conclusion of a newly released statewide evaluation encompassing four years of data conducted by an independent party, Public Consulting Group. The year-long study was procured by Maine Pretrial Services, Inc. with funding from the State Office of Behavioral Health and conducted in partnership with the Maine Judicial Branch.

The evaluation included two observations at all seven treatment courts, interviews with 136 people including 42 current and former drug court participants and analyses of data from multiple systems to track convictions and incarcerations. It employed a matched comparison group for recidivism and cost comparisons.

Participants in treatment court have lower post-program arrest and recidivism rates at a statistically significant level. Slightly more than 50 percent, on average, graduate from treatment court; however, even those who do not have far lower recidivism rates, again including both arrests and convictions, than the comparison group. Those who withdraw or are expelled spend an average of 12.6 months in treatment court compared to an average of 17.8 months for those who graduate. Thus, the non-graduates have a strong dose, more than a year of treatment, and succeed far better than those with no treatment at all. Further, there is a lower mortality rate resulting from alcohol and drugs in the treatment court group than the comparison group although the difference is not statistically significant. In addition, the cost of participating in treatment court is favorable. Treatment court generates a cost savings of 12 percent for each person who enters, rising to a savings of 28 percent at 18 months when lower recidivism rates are taken into account.

In Other News
Hennepin County, Minnesota experiences struggles with drug testing as a result of COVID-19 with reports showing a 95% drop in testing during 2020. Limited operating hours and physical safety guidelines have resulted in the creation of alternative ways to hold participants accountable and encourage sobriety.

The Department of Justice announces a ruling that a supervised injection site in Philadelphia is a violation of federal law, arguing that “here are more productive ways to address drug abuse...these sites are illegal and therefore not the answer.”
The newly-elected governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, pledges funds to continue providing connections and treatment, supporting existing courts, and absorbing courts that were previously federally funded.