Twenty years ago, Janet Reno sparked a revolution when she initiated the first Drug Court in Dade County, Florida. Her revolutionary action was born out of frustration with recidivism and overcrowding in prison facilities. Since then, the revolution has spread, leading to a transformation in how the courts handle certain types of offenders. The concept of therapeutic jurisprudence — that a biweekly appearance in court can in itself be an effective form of therapy — has found increasing respect. Courts have partnered with treatment facilities, cutting recidivism in half, and their success has been validated by numerous studies. This drug court movement has spread across the country: there were 900 drug courts in 1999; today, there are 1,600. There are potentially 20,000 to 30,000 courts nationwide if the majority of counties create drug courts.
Actually, drug courts — sometimes called sobriety courts or problem-solving courts — are only the most obvious example of this new approach to working with offenders. Consider domestic violence. Twenty or 30 years ago, the police didn’t even make an arrest when they were called to a home. However, various circumstances such as the O.J. Simpson trial increased the awareness of domestic violence. State legislatures passed mandatory arrest laws and the courts began convicting more offenders. For the first time batterer intervention groups became an established treatment.
Retail fraud, assault, malicious destruction of property, criminal sexual conduct, and domestic violence: judges and probation officers across the country make treatment referrals for these and many other offenses day-in and day-out. It’s truly a new world out there. These courts will need thousands of treatment providers, and you can be one of them.
To be successful in this new world of therapy takes some new knowledge and skills. It involves hard work to cut off your piece of this market. But mostly it requires working smart, which you will understand, if you don’t already, when you’ve read Restorative Treatment for Drug Court and Domestic Violence Clients. Working smart is a matter of giving quality time to learning and then jumping in with both feet to put the learning into practice, keeping a focus on the goal.