Here are several things to get you started:
- Make sure you have everyone at the table. Have a meeting that includes your local stakeholders and ensure everyone is on board. This includes at least your local elected officials (law enforcement, district attorney, mayor, members of your local commission, the judge who would preside over the court), but also the public defender, area treatment providers, mental health providers, large employers, the prevention coalition (if you have one), the faith community, vocational organizations, probation services, etc. This list could get pretty big, but you want to know up front where support lies and where barriers may exist. You won’t get a recovery court off the ground without support from the district attorney, and you want to know which providers are willing to work with you before it’s time to send someone to treatment!
- Visit a recovery court near you. Call TADCP or ask Liz Ledbetter which courts would be good for you to visit. We usually make suggestions based on where you are located, what court level you are, and other factors so that you can visit a program that could mentor yours.
- Research, research, research! There’s a lot of information out there, including implementation training that can set your new program up for a strong beginning. Visit www.nadcp.org, and check out the National Drug Court Institute, an NADCP arm and accessible on the main website. NDCI provides training and technical assistance for implementing and operations adult recovery courts.
- Determine funding resources. The 2003 Drug Court Act provided a small funding stream for recovery courts at the county level. A fee is assessed on all drug charges and a county with a recovery court can keep those fees for the recovery court to use. You will have to contact the county clerks office and the State Drug Court Administrator to find out how to begin using those funds.
In addition, the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) conducts a grant solicitation each year, and funding for implementation is usually a priority. Visit www.bja.gov for more information.