Matthew Perry joins NADCP to ensure $86 million for Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts

Acclaimed actor meets with key Members of Congress and participates in a Congressional briefing


On the heels of July’s historic Drug Court Rally at the U.S. Capitol, NADCP returned to Capitol Hill to continue the fight for $86 million in Drug Court funding.  Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actor Matthew Perry joined an All-Star delegation of Drug Court leaders to take part in two days of meetings with key Members of Congress and a special briefing before the U.S. House of Representatives Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus
.



NADCP CEO West Huddleston welcomes over 100 Congressional staffers to the briefing.

 

Wednesday, October 26

On Wednesday, October 26, Matthew Perry joined NADCP CEO West Huddleston, NADCP Board Chair Judge Robert Rancourt, former Congressman Jim Ramstad, and former NADCP Board Member Earl Hightower on Capitol Hill.  The delegation met with Members of Congress who serve on the prestigious House Appropriations Committee which determines federal funding for Drug Courts.  Despite widespread cuts and the elimination of many federal programs, Drug Courts could receive $86 million in funding when the budget is finalized.

 

NADCP Board Chair Judge Robert Rancourt presented the NADCP Congressional Leadership award to NADCP's House Appropriation Champions. Matthew Perry thanked the Members for their support of Drug Courts and urged them to push for $86 million. The Drug Court delegation met with the following Members:

  • Jo Bonner (R-AL), serves on the Appropriation Subcommittee for the Department of Justice
  • Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Appropriation Subcommittee for the Department of Justice
  • Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for the Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
  • Jerry Lewis (R-CA), senior Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Health and Human Services

The Appropriators strongly support Drug Courts as a proven budget solution, as evidenced by Chairman Rogers (R-KY) who told Mr. Perry that he believed in Drug Courts and wanted to ensure that they receive proper funding.

 

 

 Left: Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, shares a laugh with Matthew Perry following a meeting to discuss Drug Court funding in FY'12. Right: Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is presented with the Congressional Leadership award by Matthew Perry and Judge Robert Rancourt.

 



Thursday, October 27

On Thursday, over one hundred Congressional staffers packed into a briefing room to hear about Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts as a budget solution.  House of Representatives Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus Co-Chair Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) kicked off the briefing, telling attendees:

"Drug Courts are a proven effective tool in reducing crime, combating drug abuse and saving taxpayers substantial amounts of money. Drug Courts save taxpayers nearly $27 dollars for every dollar invested while also transforming the way our criminal justice system deals with non violent drug offenders who are trying to turn their lives around."

Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), also expressed his support for Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts, saying:

“The men and women who are struggling with mental health disorders and drug addiction deserve all of the support we can provide to them. Veterans Treatment Courts can provide the kind of specialized, compassionate solutions that will create positive outcomes in these challenging situations.”

 

 

Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) hosted the briefing as Co-Chairs of the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. Both Members are longtime champions of Drug Courts.


NADCP CEO West Huddleston thanked Congressmen Ryan and Sullivan for their leadership and commitment to policies that expand access to care for people with addiction. Huddleston told attendees about the unprecedented success of Drug Courts and the dramatic growth of Veterans Treatment Courts over last three years. Matthew Perry then took to the podium. Following several jokes that had the room filled with laughter, Perry delivered the key message of the day:

“I’m here, of course, to talk about Drug Courts because they save money. They save lives. They save prison space. They save families. They save veterans.  Drug Courts are a proven budget solution.  This is why it is critical that Congress fund Drug Courts at a minimum of $86 million.”

 

 

Left: West Huddleston makes the case for Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts. Right: Matthew Perry gives a passionate call for funding.



Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania District Judge Michael Barrasse drove home the point by highlighting the work being done in his Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court. Judge Barrasse explained the critical elements of a Veterans Treatment Court that make it a highly effective and much needed sentencing alternative for veterans struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

 

 

Left: Judge Michael Barrasse fields a question about Veterans Treatment Court from the audience. Right: Bob Houston talks about the important role of alumni groups for Drug Court graduates.

 

The final speakers of the morning were shining examples of the impact Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts have on individuals, families and communities. Bob Houston, a graduate of the Prince George’s County Drug Court, told the audience of his forty year addiction which started when he was only seven years old and came to a head when he was arrested and offered Drug Court. “I am so thankful for Drug Court,” he said. “It gave me an opportunity to get my life back.”

In contrast to Bob, Nick Stefanovic grew up having never abused drugs or been arrested. He enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was twenty and served three tours in the Middle East. He explained his difficulties upon returning home and his decent into substance abuse to cope with severe PTSD. Nick eventually landed in the Rochester Veterans Treatment Court, where he says his life was saved. “Not only was I able to get connected to the treatment I needed,” he said, “but I was able to access benefits to help me get stabilized and back on track.” His message to the audience was clear. “My story is not unique,” he said. “We must ensure that the veterans who need it have access to Veterans Treatment Court.”


Following the briefing, Nick joined Matthew Perry, West Huddleston, Judge Barrasse, Judge Rancourt and Former Congressman Jim Ramstad at a meeting with Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) to discuss funding specifically for Veterans Treatment Courts.

 

Left: Nick Stefanovic tells the story of his service and subsequent restoration in Veterans Treatment Court. Right: Former Congressman Jim Ramstad and Matthew Perry meet with Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) to discuss Veterans Treatment Courts.

 

Matthew Perry speaks about the importance of Drug Court funding with Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA).

 

NADCP CEO West Huddleston, Earl Hightower, Judge Robert Rancourt and Matthew Perry discuss Drug Court funding with Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

 


Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL) talks of his support for Drug Courts.

 

Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) and Former Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN) talk Drug Courts before the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus briefing.