White House Drug Control Office Deputy Director Helps Celebrate 20th Anniversary of the DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program
To view the full article, click here >
This year the DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program (SCDIP) is celebrating its 20th anniversary of working with the Pretrial Services Agency to provide an intensive sanctions and incentives based substance abuse treatment program for certain defendants charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. This month’s ceremony celebrated all those progressing from Phase I to Phase II, from Phase II to Phase III, from Phase III to Phase IV...and most significantly, the eight individuals who successfully completed the program and had their cases dismissed by United States Attorney Ronald Machen.
The morning began with a formal discussion among drug court advocates, graduates, judges and Pretrial Services Agency staff, moderated by Michael Botticelli, Deputy Director of the Office National Drug Control Policy. Judge Gregory Jackson, the current SCDIP judge, gave a brief overview of the program and introduced Judge Frederick Weisberg, who was the SCDIP judge from 2011 until2012, as well as having been the first judge to preside over the program in 1993 and 1994. The attendees were extremely moved by hearing from Anthony Hill, a 2007 SCDIP graduate, and Karen Christian, a 2005 Family Treatment Court graduate. Both Mr. Hill and Ms. Christian explained how these programs gave them a new outlet on life while helping overcome addiction and criminal problems. The discussion centered on the importance of drug court programs and their impact on recidivism. Cliff Keenan, Director of the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA), spoke about the advantage the SCDIP program has in handling drug testing and sanctions expeditiously as a result of PSA having its own, in-house lab. The group also discussed the challenge for government agencies to keep pace with the rapidly changing domestic and international drug supply, including synthetic drugs. The meeting attendees then left to take their seats for the graduation, which was held, as it is every month, in courtroom C-10.
As the graduation ceremony convened, the audience was graced with a musical performance by recording artist and songwriter, Ana Gibson, poetry by SCDIP case manager Tarinna Terrell, and a vibrant and inspiring message from Reverend Tony Lee of Community Hope AME Church. Reverend Lee related the success of the graduates to a popular Hip-Hop song entitled “Started From the Bottom” by artist Drake. “You started from the bottom, now you are here, but your here will get you over there to more success and stability,” Lee told the graduates. He encouraged SCDIP participants and graduates “…stand in extreme conditions, be yourself, and make decisions to be your own individual when the world wants you to be like everyone else.”
The program commenced with personal testimonies from a few graduates. One stated that SCDIP “created some structure in [her] life, changing people and places, and giving [her] stability.” They were particularly adamant about how Judge Jackson and their case managers were dedicated to believe in them when they failed to believe in themselves. In his closing remarks, Mr. Botticelli gave testimony about his 25-year journey from standing in front of a judge because of substance abuse issues and now working for the President of the United States; ending by stating: “It’s not about me, it’s about the journey, all of our journeys.” Later Mr. Botticelli underscored the importance of drug courts in the nation’s drug policy reform plan: “Drug courts are a key component of our new drug policy reform plan, which takes a public health approach to drug policy by emphasizing prevention, treatment, and smart criminal justice reform programs like drug courts.” West Huddleston, head of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, followed the testimonies by proclaiming he “…has the luckiest job – telling the world about courtrooms like this!”
Among the friends and families of the graduates and participants were Acting Chief Judge Robert Morin; DC Courts' Executive Officer Anne Wicks and Deputy Executive Director Cheryl Bailey, Clerk of the Superior Court Duane Delaney; Nancy Ware, Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA); and others from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Association of Drug Court Professionals, CSOSA and PSA.
 The DC Family Treatment Court program is part of the Superior Court's Family Court Division. It is a program for mothers with substance abuse issues charged with neglect that includes a residential phase for the first several months of treatment in which the mothers can live with their young children.
2 For more information on the nation’s new drug policy reform plan, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/DrugPolicyReform.