September 2009 National Briefs

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009: Senator James Webb introduced a bill to create a “blue-ribbon commission to look at every aspect of the criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom.”

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: In May CASA released Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Agencies. The report calculated that in 2005, the year the data was gathered, the U.S. spent $ 467.7 billion on the consequences and human wreckage of substance abuse and addiction; only 1.9% went to prevention and treatment, 0.4% to research, and 1.4% to taxation and regulation, and 0.7% to interdiction. Download report »

The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009: Congressman James Oberstar, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced the bill in the House. NPAMC, in collaboration with the American Probation and Parole Association, National Association of Drug Court Professionals, National Association of Prosecutors Coordinators, National District Attorneys Association, National Judicial College and The Century Council, recommended that Congress provide funding for DUI courts and other programming to address DUI offenders. Mothers Against Drunk Driving asked Congress to include a first-offender ignition interlock provision and funding for advanced vehicle-based technologies. The House passed a version including many of their suggestions. The President asked the Senate to delay consideration of the bill until March 2011.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: NHTSA released the preliminary traffic fatality statistics for 2008, documenting a 9.7% decline in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2007 to 2008. View report »

The agency also published a report detailing the number of alcohol-impaired drivers by gender and state. View report »

NHTSA also published the results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. The research note indicated that drugged driving is a growing concern and that more people are driving with drugs in their systems than alcohol. View report »

Finally, NHTSA kicked off the 2009 National Crackdown on August 21, 2009. Enhanced enforcement activities and media will continue through Labor Day weekend. Learn more at and

National Institutes of Health: NIH is considering a merger of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to form a National Institute on Addiction.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA launched a new website that provides information on funding for addiction and mental health prevention, interventions and treatment. The site also provides reports and news. View site »

You can also subscribe to a newsletter SAMHSA is publishing called Weekly Financing News Pulse that includes the latest information on grants, hearings, and more. Learn More »

American Automobile Association: AAA funded a University of Alabama at Birmingham study on older drivers that revealed that most of them take prescription medications and are unaware of the potentially impairing effect the drugs may have on their driving.
View report ».

AAA also developed a website that provides resources to justice professionals. Visit the site at

American Probation and Parole Association: APPA recently held its annual conference in Anaheim, California. APPA has contracted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop Guidelines for the Community Supervision of Impaired Driving Offenders. The document is due in 2011. APPA also is working with The Century Council to develop Hardcore Drunk Driving: A Guide for Community Supervision.

Conference of Western Attorneys General: At CWAG’s annual meeting in August, the Attorneys General learned about two of the nation’s most innovative programs for offenders with substance misuse issues, both of which are supported by NPAMC. South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long presented information about his 24/7 Sobriety Program. He provided preliminary data showing that the program promotes abstinence and dramatically reduces DWI recidivism. Hawaii Judge Steve Alm presented on Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE). He discussed the latest research demonstrating the program’s efficacy.

Hazelden: Hazelden conducted the “Public Attitudes Toward Addiction Survey,” finding that most Americans believe that drug addiction is a chronic disease and that first-time drug offenders should get chemical dependency treatment rather than treatment. View results »

Institute for Behavior and Health: IBH, lead by Dr. Robert DuPont, the Founding Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and former United States Drug Czar under President Nixon, formed a DWI Committee comprised of well-known experts in various fields to develop models for handling DWI offenders. The committee is expected to create model program parameters, a model law, and papers on drugged driving. IBH also awarded South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long and former Assistant Attorney General Bill Mickelson for their outstanding work on the 24/7 Sobriety Program.

Join Together: Join Together continues to publish a daily newsletter providing up-to-date information on a variety of addiction issues. Subscribe »

National Drug Court Institute (a division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals): NDCI is offering a free online course on the basic fundamentals of drug courts. NDCI published the latest issue of the Drug Court Review, a peer-review journal. The issue contains articles discussing the efficacy of DWI and drug courts and SCRAM monitoring, as well as a piece on racial disparities in drug courts. View publication »

National Judicial College: NJC has developed and is offering several courses for judges that address offenders with substance misuse, including “Tribal Court Management of Alcohol and Drug Cases” (October 12-15, 2009) and “Advanced Issues in Cases Involving Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Abuse Disorders.” For more information, contact the NJC at 1-800-25-JUDGE.

Pew Charitable Trusts: The Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project released a series of reports concerning prison overcrowding and providing recommendations for simultaneously ameliorating the problem, saving tax dollars, and promoting public safety. View reports »

Returning Heroes: James McDonough, former Florida Drug Czar and Florida Secretary of the Department of Corrections, hosted a series of meetings with the Vera Institute to discuss how to better handle veterans in the justice system.

The Century Council: The Century Council released the “Hardcore Drunk Driving Prosecutorial Guide: A Resource Outlining Prosecutorial Challenges, Effective Strategies and Model Programs.” This guide, developed in partnership with the National District Attorney Association, provides information on promising evaluation, monitoring, sentencing, and treatment options. Download guide »

Transportation Research Board: The TRB conducted a workshop entitled “What’s New and What’s Needed to Prevent Driving While Impaired by Alcohol or Other Drugs?” The group discussed the value of ignition interlock devices and developing advanced vehicle-based technologies in preventing drunk driving and the efficacy of abstinence monitoring on facilitating long term recovery.