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Episode 278 - Dr. John Gallagher: It's all about relationships: Drug Courts - what are they and how do they work? (part 2 of 2)

Monday, January 13, 2020, 8:33:42 AM

Image of John R. Gallagher, PhD, LSW, LCAC

In the second of a two-part podcast, our guest Dr. John Gallagher elaborates on the racial disparities his research is revealing related to drug court outcomes. He describes the four main themes he has identified via qualitative research with African-American drug court participants and recommendations for practice based on this work.

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Average Rating: 5stars  hopefully mental health courts are next, Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Eric Ruest :

Dr. Gallagher does an outstanding job highlighting the effectiveness of Drug Courts in reducing recidivism rates for criminal drug offenders. More impressive is the awareness that, despite their effectiveness, Drug Courts are less effective for African-Americans than they are for Caucasians. As social workers, this should appall us. I hope that his future research can shed more light on the cause of this and suggest effectual solutions.

I found what he said about the inability of cultural competence to fix the problems with the current operation of our drug courts particularly stimulating. Turning the focus inward enough to recognize and adjust for our own biases is as integral to a counselor’s treatment of the addicted as understanding their culture is.

It is my hope that we will soon utilize Mental Health Courts with the same abundance as Drug Courts. Given the frequency of co-occurrence of addiction and mental health disorders, as well as the effectiveness of integrated treatment, it could revolutionize the way the US prison system treats the mentally ill.

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Average Rating: 5stars  excellent promotion of social work values applied to judicial practice , Sunday, February 02, 2020

By Stacey E. McClinsey :

Parts 1 & 2 of this podcast excellently demonstrates the need for confidentiality, collaboration, autonomy, and for personally meaningful support systems. Among the reasons provided for the success of Drug Courts is the recognition of the inherent value of the offending person. The sense that their well-being is cared for can be predictive of program success, which supports John Braithwaite's theory that shame is an effective deterrent for undesirable behavior, but must be paired with re-integrative practices and maintain respect for the person in order to produce true positive behavioral change. Shaming that is not re-integrative leads to stigma and can exacerbate negative behaviors. I also found it interesting that the tendency to avoid labeling themselves as addicts was more pronounced in African-American communities. However, I think the observation aligns with Dr. Gallagher's statement that "it is their lived experience," and historically African-Americans have been given a great many labels. It becomes clear then that the most important and meaningful labels to all people, and especially to African-Americans, are the ones they assign to themselves. The unwillingness to accept addiction as a part of their identity but rather as an undesirable behavior, speaks to the dignity and pride that many people have in their own sense of self, which can help rather than hinder the therapeutic process in my opinion. Trust is also a big factor in determining therapeutic success, since the process often involves the client allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Maintaining that distinction between the courts and the social workers is essential in a program like drug court so that the client is comfortable being honest throughout their treatment process. I fully stand behind Dr. Gallagher in his recommendations for best practice and I feel that his research also supports the fundamental principles of social work as outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics.

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