This story is associated with a fiscal year 2022 award made to Will County, Illinois, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA's) Adult Treatment Court (ATC) Program.
About the Program
The Will County Drug Court was the first of four problem-solving courts established in the county. It is a voluntary program, but participation is subject to meeting eligibility criteria and being staffed and approved for admission into the program by the team. Will County Drug Court has been built on an extensive history of collaboration among key stakeholders, including the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, Will County, the Will County State's Attorney, the Will County Public Defender, the Will County Sheriff, the Will County Adult Court Services Department, Center for Correctional Concerns, treatment providers, and the community.
Supporting those who receive funding through the ATC Program, like the Will County Drug Court, is the BJA Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Collaborative. Comprised of four organizations, All Rise (formerly the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, NADCP), the Center for Justice Innovation, the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, and the National Drug Court Resource Center, the TTA Collaborative assists states and local jurisdictions in the development and implementation of improved treatment court program practices through numerous approaches:
- The identification of treatment court participants’ risk level and needs.
- The provision of targeted evidence-based interventions and recovery support services.
- Community engagement.
- Program data collection and evaluation.
These approaches at the administrative and policy level are important, but the TTA Collaborative also focuses on the individual level, providing employees in the court and law enforcement with hands-on training for dealing with drug overdoses.
Program Successes and Effect on the Community
That individual training saves lives, as demonstrated in July 2023 when a woman overdosed in the Will County courthouse. Jaclyn Sopcic, the lead prosecutor in the BJA-funded Will County Problem Solving Courts program, said she knew the woman needed immediate help based on the experience and training Sopcic had received. “As I personally carry Narcan and also know that we keep it [in] Courtroom 401 for our Problem Solving Courts program, I literally ran in high heels down the hall and grabbed a dose of Narcan from my handbag and a box containing two doses from the courtroom,” Sopcic said in a press release. Ultimately, the woman’s life was saved due to the quick administration of Narcan.
Sopcic gave BJA’s TTA provider All Rise credit for the training and awareness they have brought to the field to expand the use of overdose treatment practices.
"I'm so incredibly grateful to the NADCP [All Rise] and Dr. Kathleen Burke and Connie DeWall, who run Will County's substance use initiative, for providing the educational opportunities on Narcan and partnering with our program." — Jaclyn Sopcic
Regarding the effect the Problem Solving Courts program has had on the community, Sopcic said, "I've seen the incredible changes in participants, which even included hiring a graduate of our own drug court as a peer support specialist full time with the State Attorney's Office. I've attended All Rise three times and love advocating for research-based practices, tools, and resources in my community. … I hope to provide any and all harm-reduction measures in order to lessen the individuals and families impacted by addiction."
The incident is a powerful reminder that BJA’s work is focused on saving and protecting lives.
See the ATC section of our site for information about the BJA program through which funding and assistance was provided.