Standards on Substance Abuse: Standard XVIII. Use of courthouse for recovery and education sessions

Standards prepared by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Standard XVIII

The justices who have administrative responsibility for courthouses are encouraged to seek permission from the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court to authorize access to the court buildings for court-referred recovery meetings, counseling sessions, and substance abuse education group meetings, in order to ensure that security and other issues are addressed. All courts are encouraged to refer defendants to such meetings and sessions in the court building.


Many courts already offer space for counseling, recovery meetings, and education groups for parties referred by the court. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous or Rational Recovery meetings are held at a number of courts. While most of these courthouse meetings occur in the evenings, several courts hold daily lunchtime AA meetings in the courthouse. Narcotics Anonymous meetings occur regularly in a few courts, while other courts accommodate drug education and drug prevention programs.

Substance abusers benefit psychologically when they enter the court as part of a group of self-respecting, recovering addicts helping one another. The courthouse changes from a place of shame and loss of control over one's life to one of strength and hope. This effect is magnified if court personnel, such as probation officers and judges, attend these meetings to give those in recovery some positive feedback concerning their success in staying away from alcohol or drugs.

Additionally, the courts are usually centrally located and easily accessible to the local community by public transportation. This can be an important factor in facilitating attendance.

Any group wishing to conduct courthouse meetings must seek permission from the Chief Justice for Administration and Management, in order to ensure that security and other issues are addressed.



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