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Ohio Northern University law review symposium to focus on criminal justice system

Mar 13, 2015

Ohio Northern University presents the 38th annual Law Review Symposium, “New Solutions to Old Problems: A Practical Look At the Rebirth of Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System” in the Pettit College of Law’s Celebrezze Moot Court Room on Friday, March 27.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. This symposium is open to the public. The cost for the event is $85 for individual attorneys; $75 for federal/state/local government attorneys; $65 for ONU College of Law alumni; $45 for ONU College of Law alumni who are Lehr Society members; $35 for non-attorney registrants; and $25 for non-ONU students.

A panel of legal experts will tackle different aspects of the U.S. rehabilitation system and discuss what can be done in the future to help in developing a more constructive criminal justice system.

Mark R. Fondacaro, professor in the psychology and law program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will speak on “The Rebirth of Rehabilitation in Juvenile and Criminal Justice: New Wine in New Bottles.” This lecture will provide an overview of the historical background of rehabilitation and punishment in the American criminal justice systems and will discuss social, psychological, legal, scientific and policy considerations that have kindled the rebirth of rehabilitation in juvenile and criminal justice. 

Fondacaro’s theoretical work focuses on the development of an “Ecological Jurisprudence,” and his empirical research has focused on adapting legal concepts of due process and procedural justice to extra-legal contexts such as the family and the health care system. Fondacaro has recently co-authored (with Christopher Slobogin) a book titled “Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice” that was published by Oxford University Press. He has authored numerous articles in both law reviews and behavioral science journals on issues of procedural justice, due process, family conflict resolution and juvenile justice reform.

Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, retired, will focus on “The Revolving Door of Mental Illness and the Courts.” Once mental health hospitals were closed throughout the country, the courts and the prison system became a revolving door for persons with mental illness. In Ohio, the largest mental health institution is the prison system. The problem is compounded when veterans return with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury issues. Specialty dockets – mental health courts, drug courts, and veterans courts – are one answer to the problem, but it requires the whole community to get involved to resolve the problem.

Judge Stratton retired from the Supreme Court of Ohio after 23 years in the judiciary to pursue criminal justice reforms, particularly as they relate to mental health, juveniles and veterans. She began her legal career as a trial lawyer in the courtrooms of central Ohio. In 1989, she was the first woman to be elected judge of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, where she became known as “The Velvet Hammer” for her approach to sentencing in serious felony cases. Her success on the trial bench led to an appointment in 1996 to the Supreme Court of Ohio, where she was elected to a third term in 2008.

Judge Stratton believes that the courts, in partnership with the mental health system, can affect positive change in the lives of many defendants whose mental illness has led to criminal activity. To that end, she formed the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mental Illness & the Courts, which was composed of mental health, law enforcement and criminal justice professionals who were dedicated to mental health initiatives in the court system. That committee has now merged into the Attorney General Task Force on Mental Illness and Criminal Justice, and she still serves as co-chair along with Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Judge Kathryn Michael will discuss the Family Intervention Program that she presides over in the Akron Municipal Court. Established in 1998, the mission of the Family Intervention Program is to provide effective supervision and enhanced treatment services to misdemeanor offenders convicted of domestic violence in an effort to modify their thinking, behavior and actions as it relates to committing acts of violence against a household member or loved one. The group also aims to reduce the risk the offender poses to the safety of the community, the victim and to themselves.

The Family Intervention Court is a domestic violence program, the only one of its kind in Ohio and one of very few throughout the country. The Family Intervention Court was made possible from a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Services. It was created through the joint efforts of the Akron Municipal Court Probation Department, Oriana House Inc., the Akron City Prosecutor’s Office, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, Victim Assistance, Battered Women’s Shelter, and the Akron Police Department.

Judge Michael was elected as an Akron municipal court judge in 2005 and re-elected in 2011. Her community involvement spans over 25 years. Since 2009, she has been the presiding judge of the Family Violence Court, expanding the program from an intimate partner court to include adult-parent, adult-child and adult-sibling offenders and a specialized track of treatment for female offenders. The program includes management-review meetings with all community providers and case management meetings to discuss specific offenders and individualized courses of treatment.

"Edward J. Latessa, director and professor of the school of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati, will speak on “What Works in Reducing Recidivism and How Does it Relate to Drug Courts?” This presentation will focus on what works (and doesn’t) in reducing recidivism among offenders. Participants will learn about the principles of effective intervention and how they apply to drug courts. Included will be a discussion of the successes of drug courts as well as the issues and problems that surround their development and use."

Latessa has published more than 150 works in the area of criminal justice, corrections and juvenile justice. He is co-author of eight books, including “What Works (and Doesn’t) in Reducing Recidivism, Corrections in the Community, and Corrections in America.” Latessa has directed more than 150 funded research projects, including studies of day-reporting centers, juvenile justice programs, drug courts, prison programs, intensive supervision programs, halfway houses and drug programs. He and his staff have also assessed more than 600 correctional programs throughout the United States, and he has provided assistance and workshops in more than 45 states. He also has received numerous awards, and in 2013 he was identified as one of the most innovative people in criminal justice by a national survey conducted by the Center for Court Innovation in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Melissa A. Knopp, a licensed attorney originally from West Chester, Ohio, will discuss the Ohio re-entry courts. Re-entry courts are specialized dockets that target offenders being released from prison under supervision. This session will review the history, identify the essential elements of development and operations, and examine the latest research on re-entry courts with a focus on the Ohio experience.

Knopp is a certified court manager and certified court executive from the Institute for Court Management of the National Center for State Courts. In 2001, she was named the manager of the newly created Specialized Dockets Section at the Supreme Court of Ohio; she served in this role for 12 years. As manager of this section, Knopp supervised a staff of four employees in addition to providing technical assistance to trial courts in planning, implementing and operating specialized docket programs focused on adult offenders. In the Fall of 2013, Knopp partnered with Shelley Hearld to create Court Management Services LLC, which provides technical assistance, training and consulting services to justice system service partners regarding court processes, offender supervision and treatment issues. Court Management Services LLC joined with American Court Services to develop i-onTrack, a web-based supervision and behavioral management system designed to meet the unique needs of treatment courts.

Sonya L. Harper, project director with the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) in Alexandria, Va., will discuss “Funding and Sustainability Strategies for Drug Courts.” The long-term viability of drug court programs can be a challenge for problem-solving court practitioners. Once program implementation funds are exhausted, devising a plan to ensure program fiscal stability must be accomplished in an effort to maintain much needed client-treatment services and supervision protocols. This presentation will provide attendees with considerations for monetary aspects of drug court funding and sustainability strategies. Discussion will be held on available local, state and federal funding resources that can be accessed in order to support efforts to sustain the ongoing operation and continued development of drug courts and other specialized courts.

Harper oversees a variety of training and technical assistance projects, including NDCI’s online drug court clearinghouse, the National Drug Court Resource Center. She previously served as the director of Drug Treatment Courts for the 10th Judicial District of North Carolina. In this capacity, Harper was responsible for the overall administration of drug court activities in Wake County, N.C. She also served as a facilitator for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, assisting with the development and delivery of trainings throughout the state. Harper also is a certified substance abuse counselor.

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