Commentary: NADCP Kicks off a Coast-to-Coast National Drug Court Month Celebration
All Rise America! National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery Gets Underway in California
All Rise America! Today marks the beginning of National Drug Court Month, an annual celebration of the most successful criminal justice approach in our nation’s history. By month’s end, thousands of addicted individuals who would otherwise be incarcerated will have completed drug court, ready to embark on a new life of recovery, stability and service. Amid the community events and graduations that will occur in hundreds of towns and cities throughout May, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) is pleased to announce the launch of All Rise America! The National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery: a first-of-its-kind, cross-country motorcycle relay celebrating the inspiring stories of transformation brought to bear every day in America’s drug courts.
During All Rise America!, Drug Court graduates, Drug Court professionals, veterans and other concerned citizens will carry the “All Rise Gavel” for over 3,000 miles coast to coast. They will stop at 25 adult drug court, DWI court, family drug court, juvenile drug court, tribal drug court and veterans treatment court events to honor individuals who have overcome their addictions and the dedicated justice and treatment professionals who help make it possible. At each stop, the gavel will be passed to a new group of riders as a symbol of the collective impact of Drug Courts and a reminder that when one person rises out of addiction and finds recovery, we All Rise.
Drug Courts refer more people to treatment than any other system in America; treating over 120,000 individuals each year and leading the vast majority of them into a life-long recovery. Each of them is a reminder that every American deserves a shot at freedom from addiction. All Rise America! will tell their stories. From small towns to big cities, over mountains and across Midwestern plains, we will expose America to the fact that people can and do recover from addiction. Nationally, over 75 percent of drug court graduates are never arrested again, and drug courts save up to $13,000 for every individual they serve.
There is no better testament to the success of drug courts than the events held today in California to kick-off All Rise America! In Orange County, California, a young combat Marine who entered the criminal justice system a shell of the soldier who fought in Iraq, graduated the Orange County Combat Veterans Treatment Court to the applause of a community of justice and treatment leaders who fought as hard for him as he did for us.
Following the ceremony, we fired up the motorcycles and cruised up to Los Angeles, another participant in the Orange County Combat Veterans Treatment Court leading the way and carrying the All Rise Gavel. In LA, we were met by a massive crowd of drug court graduates, drug court professionals, bikers, veterans, media and citizen supporters. The event was held to pass the gavel to a new group of riders. During the ceremony we heard from a Mark, who told the crowd that he had attempted treatment over 50 times before finding recovery in the LAX Drug Court.
“My addiction to drugs and alcohol threatened to rob me of everything, including my freedom,” he said. “Drug Court gave me a deeper freedom; freedom from my unrelenting addiction. What better way to honor the profound impact Drug Court had on my life and the lives of my friends and family than to get on our bikes and ride for All Rise America! For me this is more than a cause to raise awareness, this is a cause for celebration!”
Whether you are familiar with Drug Courts or new to the concept, All Rise America! will teach you about the incredible capacity for human beings to change, and give you hope that there is a part of our criminal justice system that not only works to reduce substance abuse and crime, but saves lives. But All Rise America! is also a call to action. It demonstrates that our justice system can compel people to change, but only if we All Rise and demand reform that is more sensible, cost-effective and humane.
As you read this, we are riding through the night to the Arizona border with miles to go before we sleep. You can follow all of our progress over the next 24 days and the inspiring stories we come across on the All Rise America! Blog.
West Huddleston, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals