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The Issue

Professionals in the criminal justice system are often on the frontlines of many public safety and public health crises. Addiction and substance use figure prominently in the work of public defenders’ offices, courts, corrections, and other CJ professionals around the country.

Unfortunately, defenders and staff rarely receive adequate tools, training, or in-house resources for these cases. This often leads to poor client outcomes as well as burnout, unhealthy coping skills, and physical and mental health issues among defenders and staff.

 

Substance use is a key factor in a major part of public defenders’ caseloads. Staff in these offices are tasked with charging, judging, and supervising cases involving substance use, often without adequate tools, training, or in-house resources. Based on our pilot research to remedy the surprising lack of existing studies, we have found that many CJ professionals find that this work can be tiresome, frustrating, and undervalued which often leads to burnout, unhealthy coping skills, and poor mental health.

What We Do

This evidence-based course by the SHIELD Training Initiative at Northeastern University School of Law and UC San Diego, School of Medicine brings you the science and best practices about addiction, recovery strategies, and how to address defender and staff burnout arising from handling substance use-related cases--practices that can also reduce addiction and drug-related crime in the communities they serve.

To help improve their occupational health and wellbeing as it relates to substance use, burnout, and stress, and to improve public safety and reduce addiction in the community, we are developing evidence-based training courses tailored to each CJ field. Bringing the science and best practices to all CJ personnel will increase their collective capacity to improve public safety and reduce addiction in the communities they serve.

What SHIELD Offers

The SHIELD training model’s core curriculum has been extensively evaluated. It has been found to be effective in boosting officer attitudes and intentions about using best practices that deliver multiple benefits:

  • Improving public safety by reducing addiction and drug-related crime in the community

  •  (placeholder from LE!) Increasing officer wellbeing and retention by reducing stress, improving police morale, occupational safety, and job satisfaction, while also facilitating community level collaboration

Research & Evidence

Based on our pilot research to remedy the surprising lack of existing studies, we have found that many criminal justice system professionals find that this work can be tiresome, frustrating, and undervalued which often leads to burnout, unhealthy coping skills, and poor mental health.

The new curricula are evidence-based, and developed by legal, health, and educational experts at Northeastern University School of Law and the University of California-San Diego. They are based upon consultations with personnel, qualitative interviews, and pilot trainings, as well as familiarity with the existing research base.

Testimonials

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