Watch Closing Ceremony Highlights
After three days of learning and fellowship, hundreds of hours of education and entertainment, it was time to bring the NADCP 20th Annual Conference to a close – but not before an incredible ceremony to send attendees home energized and invigorated. Former NADCP Board Chair and Stanley Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame Inductee Judge Robert Rancourt kicked off the morning’s events by offering some news from the nation’s capitol. “It has been an outstanding week for our field because yesterday morning, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $59 Million for Drug Courts at the Department of Justice which is a $14.5 Million increase over last year’s budget!” Judge Rancourt then encouraged attendees to pull out their cell phones and participate in an NADCP advocacy campaign targeting the Senate (You can still participate – click here).
Former NADCP Board Chair Judge Robert Rancourt urges attedees to advocate for Drug Court funding.
Conference attendees participate in NADCP's online advocacy campaign urging the U.S. Senate to support an increase in funding for Drug Courts.
With the audience still buzzing, the Singing Judge, Mississipi’s own Gay Polk-Peyton, set the tone for the closing ceremony with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s classic One Moment in Time.
"The Singing Judge" Mississippi's own Gay Polk-Payton
Celebrating 25 years of Drug Courts would not be complete without the induction of a Drug Court professional extraordinaire into the Stanley Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame. Named after the first Drug Court Judge, the Stanley Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by NADCP. NADCP COO Carson Fox, NADCP CEO West Huddleston and NADCP Board Chair Keith Starrett inducted Judge Jeffrey Ford into the 2014 Goldstein Hall of Fame for his work in leading the charge for Drug Courts in the state of Illinois since the 1990’s.
Judge Jeffrey Ford (second from right) is inducted into the Drug Court Hall of Fame by NADCP COO Carson Fox, Board Chair Judge Keith Starrett, and CEO West Huddleston.
A focal point of the closing ceremony was a keynote address presented by Dr. Kevin Sabet who explained NADCP’s unequivocal stand against the legalization of marijuana and the use of smoked marijuana as “medicine.” Dr. Sabet’s presentation stands as one of the most compelling arguments against marijuana legalization available and all are encouraged to watch it in its entirety.
Following Dr. Sabet, National Center for DWI Courts Senior Director Judge (ret) Michael Kavanaugh introduced a segment on DWI Courts by bringing to the stage the Pacific Northwest Regional Administration for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration John Moffatt. Administrator Moffat discussed DWI Courts as an integral tool for reducing drunk driving. “DWI Courts succeed because they engage offenders and keep them engaged throughout the program,” he said. “That is why DWI Courts have the strong support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
Administrator John Moffatt
To drive home the point, the next speaker was Althea, a graduate of DWI Court. Althea explained that DWI Court saved her life, and perhaps the life of someone else on the road. “I am grateful, I stand here today a new woman,” she said. “I am going back to school and getting straight A’s. I am trying to follow my heart. I have the tools today to deal with life.”
Althea brings the crowd to tears with her inspiring story.
Althea’s remarks underscored why DWI Courts have been promoted by the National Traffic Safety Board. Member, Dr. Mark Rosekind told conference attendees that DWI Courts are a tool to put the United States on course to reach zero alcohol-impaired driving crashes. “One of the nineteen recommendations we put out to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was to develop and disseminate best practices for DWI Courts,” he said. “Your work has been critical…for helping our entire nation reach zero. I thank you for all you have done to make us safer,” he said.
NYSB Board Member Dr. Mark Rosekind
Judge Kavanaugh returned to the stage to present the 2014 DWI Court Leadership Award to Nadine Milford for her work in expanding DWI Courts in New Mexico. As Judge Kavanaugh explained, Nadine Milford’s daughter and three grandchildren were killed by a drunk driver. Ms. Milford turned her anguish into action and began a twenty year crusade to fight drunk driving. As a result New Mexico is no longer the deadliest state in the nation when it comes to alcohol related crashes and is leading the nation in DWI Court expansion.
During her acceptance speech Nadine looked at Althea, “I want you all to know that the reason I am here is for people like you,” she said. “I just want to thank everybody in this auditorium. Thank you for the job you all have done. We are going to get everybody well and stop drunk driving!” The audience enthusiastically responded with a standing ovation to honor Nadine and Althea.
Nadine Milford accepts the 2014 NCDC DWI Court Leadership Award.
Before the audience could sit back down, another familiar face appeared. All Rise Ambassador Matthew Perry was in the house making his eighth NADCP conference appearance. “I love Drug Court!” he exclaimed. “This is my eighth year and I plan on attending all of them because it is just such a beautiful place to be because of all the people involved. It is an amazing thing to be a part of this.”
All Rise Ambassador Matthew Perry
Incoming NADCP Board Member, Essex Massachusetts District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett took the stage to speak about the critical role of Prosecutors in Drug Court. President of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children Chuck Noerenberg shared his organizations support for Juvenile Drug Courts and their role in ensuring children on the brink of a life of substance abuse and crime get the services they need.
District Attorney and incoming NADCP Board Member Jonathan Blodgett
National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children President Chuck Noerenberg
Building on that theme, NDCI Senior Director Carolyn Hardin introduced Robert Listenbee, the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the U.S. Department of Justice. Administrator Listenbee discussed his office’s support for Juvenile Drug Courts and the need for comprehensive trauma informed care to be expanded throughout the country. “In many ways we are beginning a renaissance era in juvenile court,” he said. “We are about to begin systemic reform in every state that we can engage. We are asking all of you to do everything you can to help us in this effort.” There is no doubt that the Drug Court field will be answering this call to action.
PJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee
On January 26, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and entertainment legend Paul Williams took home the Grammy for Album of the Year for his work producing Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. Williams has been a Drug Court supporter for years and was on hand to tell his story, thank Drug Court professionals for their work, and send everybody home inspired. He did just that.
Paul Williams leaves the audience inspired to close out the NADCP 20th Annual Training Conference.
“If you are a Drug Court professional, as you get in the car to go to work I hope you remember that you are giving a gift that you will never see the end result of,” he said. “Some of the people whose lives you are going to change are going to light up with the love of recovery. God Bless you, thank you for the work you are doing, you are warriors of the light.”
With that, the NADCP 20th Annual Training Conference came to a close. CEO West Huddleston took the stage one last time to officially send attendees on their way. “It is our mission at NADCP to leave you inspired and with more knowledge than when you came,” he said. “Go home, continue to do the life saving work that you do and we will see you next year in Washington, DC. Happy 25th Birthday Drug Court!”