December 2021
What's Happening at NDCRC?
Justice To Healing Episode 11, "State of the Field: DUI/DWI Courts" Available Now!

Our latest installment of the State of the Field series on the Justice To Healing podcast features hosts Kristen DeVall, Ph.D. & Christina Lanier, Ph.D. as they welcome Jim Eberspacher, Director of the National Center for DWI Courts, for discussion regarding the state of DUI/DWI courts. Listen as they discuss the history and myths of DUI/DWI courts, target population, risk assessment tools, challenges in establishing new programs, current and potential research, and much more.
NSDUH Interactive Map

The NDCRC has compiled the data available from SAMHSA’s 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health into an interactive map format available by state, county, and SAMHSA region. Compare each variable on the map or find your area in the data table.
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.
Trauma-informed Treatment Courts: Translating Knowledge into Action

By Drs. Kristen DeVall & Sally MacKain

Which clients in your treatment court have a history of trauma? How can you find out? Why does it matter? While the conversation about the prevalence and devastating effects of trauma has become increasingly open in justice settings, many treatment courts may be blind to it in their own programs or simply hope that good intentions will prevent further trauma. Perhaps now is the time to self-reflect as a treatment court and to take small, but meaningful actions right now.

According to SAMHSA, “Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being, (2014a, p. 7).” Trauma experiences can diminish the ability of treatment court participants to engage in programs and long-term recovery. So, what does it mean for organizations to be trauma-informed? First, in order for treatment court programs to fully embody a trauma-informed system of care, all program staff must:

  1. Have a basic realization of the origins of trauma and the impact this can have on individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  2. Be able to recognize the signs of trauma in individuals.
  3. Continuously assess the ways in which policies, procedures, and practices should be revised in order to allow staff to respond to individuals appropriately. 
  4. Resist engaging in action(s) that may result in re-traumatization.

In addition, SAMHSA (2014a) identifies six key principles that should serve as the foundation for developing your trauma-informed systems of care.

  1. Safety (this is #1 for a reason) – above all else, participants’ physical & emotional safety should be promoted in all settings & through all interactions. Individuals (i.e., staff and participants) who do not feel safe will not fully engage.
  2. Trustworthiness & Transparency – treatment court operations should be transparent and conducted with an eye toward developing and maintaining mutual trust between and among stakeholders and participants. 
  3. Peer Support – incorporating peer recovery support specialists into your treatment court program is an effective way for individuals with lived experience to assist participants in their recovery.
  4. Collaboration & Mutuality – recognizing and acknowledging that all treatment court team members and participants have unique roles/responsibilities is key to developing collaborative relationships based on mutuality and respect.
  5. Empowerment, Voice, & Choice – treatment court team members look for opportunities to empower participants to make decisions and have a voice in their recovery.
  6. Cultural, Historical, & Gender Issues – the treatment court program provides participants with access to clinical and recovery support services that are responsive to their cultural, racial/ethnic, and gender needs.

A good place to start moving toward being a trauma-informed treatment court is to screen participants for trauma exposure to determine which individuals are in need of a more thorough assessment and trauma-specific services. Several screening and assessment tools have been validated with justice-involved populations; a sample list is attached. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and note that separate tools have been developed for youth (Collaborative for Change, 2016) and adults (SAMHSA, 2015). Many of these tools are free, while some charge a nominal fee.

To conduct a screen sensitively that will yield valid responses, it is recommended that programs “take the time to prepare and explain the screening and assessment process to the client gives him or her a greater sense of control and safety over the assessment process.” (SAMHSA, 2014b, p. 94). Be prepared to reassess individuals as they grow more willing to disclose information over time.

In the coming months, Beyond the Field entries will periodically highlight literature on trauma-informed practices for different components of treatment courts, including drug testing, courtroom set-up and structure, team dynamics, use of language, and providing participants opportunities to have a voice and make choices.


Collaborative for Change. (2016). Trauma Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014a). SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014b). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 57. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4801.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Screening and Assessment of Co-occurring Disorders in the Justice System. HHS Publication No. PEP19-SCREEN-CODJS. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Monthly Highlights
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month and a critical time for DWI courts to engage and educate your community about how these programs are changing the way the justice system identifies, assesses, and treats repeat impaired drivers. Download your free 2021 toolkit from NADCP's National Center For DWI Courts for safe event ideas; tips for engaging your local media and elected officials; sample media advisory, op-ed, and social media posts; guidance for keeping your participants safe during the holiday season; and much more!
TTA Collaborative Updates
The Training & Technical Assistance (TTA) Collaborative comprises four entities: The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), Center for Court Innovation (CCI), Tribal Law & Policy Institute (TLPI), & the National Drug Court Resource Center (NDCRC). Monthly updates from our TTA Collaborative partners are featured below.
Tribal Law & Policy Institute
November 2021 marked the 25th anniversary of establishment of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI). To commemorate the past 25 years, TLPI's board and staff have chosen to shine a light on some of the incredible work being done in Indian country. TLPI centered our work around the theme: Celebrating our Journey; Honoring our Relatives; and Building a Vision for the Future. Recordings are available below:

Celebrating our Journey (November 2, 2021)
Honoring our Relatives (November 9, 2021)
Center for Court Innovation
Planning a Reentry Program: A Toolkit for Tribal Communities

Developed with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Planning a Reentry Program: A Toolkit for Tribal Communities is designed to help tribal justice system practitioners create or enhance reentry programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives returning from jail or prison. It also offers guidance for practitioners who are currently working in a reentry program.
The information provided in the toolkit is informed by the work of reentry programs in Indian Country; the expertise of our Tribal Justice Exchange and our teams who established one of the nation’s first reentry courts, the Harlem Parole Reentry Court; and the work done by the American Probation and Parole Association.
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
NADCP is Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Virtual Trainings

Building a Multi-Track Treatment Court is a free, virtual training designed specifically for adult drug treatment courts, DWI courts, and veterans treatment courts seeking to serve individuals that may not need the full complement of services offered by the program but with no other accessible alternative to incarceration. Attendees will learn how to improve outcomes in their community for the full spectrum of justice-involved individuals. Applicants must have commitment from their full multidisciplinary team to be considered. The application deadline is Friday, December 10, 2021.
Equity and Inclusion Training, based on NADCP's Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standard II, is designed for jurisdictions interested in addressing racial disparities and bias to ensure equivalent access, retention, treatment, incentives and sanctions, and dispositions. Applicants must have commitment from their full, multidisciplinary team to be considered. The application deadline is Friday, December 17, 2021.
Featured State
The Vermont Judiciary’s five regional adult drug treatment court teams play a significant role during COVID-19. During the pandemic, treatment teams throughout the country developed solutions to challenges of food, housing, employment, and treatment access. In Vermont, the teams found success by addressing the dangers of isolation and the higher risk for their clients of getting COVID or from dying from an overdose amid the isolation caused by the pandemic and keeping participants engaged in remote treatment services and hearings.

View a summary for outcome and overdose trends, changes adapted early on in the pandemic, and the challenges that accompanied these changes. Vermont’s teams identified the needs and filled gaps with resources. The team member’s knowledge, skills, and experiences prior to COVID-19 ultimately led to the practical solutions during the public health crisis.
In Other News
A California judge ruled that four drug companies (one of which is Johnson & Johnson) could not be legally held liable for the state’s opioid crisis, as he could not directly correlate the companies’ marketing to an increase in illegal opioid use. This ruling has prompted the Supreme Court in Oklahoma to throw out a $465 million ruling from 2019 that Johnson & Johnson “created a ‘public nuisance’ through its marketing of prescription pain pills.”

Treatment court graduate Cady Schaeffer, now a peer recovery specialist, is teaming up with the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force and Law Enforcement Overdose Intervention Program to encourage recent overdose victims to begin drug treatment in Winchester, VA.