In the opening of our book, we extend special thanks to one of our favorite Evolutionaries – United States District Court Chief Judge Ann Aiken. This video describes what can happen when one determined Evolutionary takes on the challenge of changing the world. The story starts in 1994 with what was first known as the Lane County Drug Court program piloted by Judge Aiken in her own court in Oregon, showcasing stories of recent graduates, and testimonials from people in all facets of the program, including counselors, prosecutors, probation officers, and court officials. Over the last decade Judge Aiken has taken her evidence based outcomes on the road – speaking at conferences across the country to convince other federal judges to adopt a similar solution. Today, the program, renamed Reentry Court is used in several states across the nation and under consideration by the Ninth Circuit.
Drug Court was created as a solution to the overwhelming failure of traditional criminal case processes to reduce drug abuse and dependency. Research shows that roughly 75% of state and local crimes are drug related. The need for a successful model for offenders to recover from addiction and transition back into their community is of paramount social concern. The goal of the program is to “graduate a clean and sober, responsible, healthy, productive, employed member of our community.” To achieve this goal, the program works to provide closely supervised treatment for a minimum of one year to convicted felons (for drug-related crimes) who qualify for program entry. Social benefits of the program include reduced societal costs and criminal justice system costs.
We chose to showcase this Evolutionary story to highlight the visionary leadership of Judge Aiken – an extraordinary woman who went above and beyond her every day job to make a real difference in her community and in the nation. While the Reentry Court statistics of success and cost reduction speak for themselves, it is the human stories of triumph and redemption that truly convey the life-saving magic in this truly Evolutionary program.