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The Third Branch

Second District hosts cultural proficiency training for treatment courts

By Theresa Owens, District Two Court Administrator

During September, the National Drug Court Institute hosted a conference in the Second Judicial District for members of the six treatment court teams in Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties.

The district-wide training held at Wingspread in Racine focused on the issue of underrepresentation of minorities in these courts. As part of the program, each court developed a strategy and action steps to address cultural competency.

Darryl Turpin, Guy Wheeler, and Diana Padilla led sessions on cultural proficiency in treatment courts. The presenters emphasized culturally proficient programs that:

Turpin noted that over one-third of the U.S. population is from a minority group. He emphasized the importance of incorporating cultural awareness into the treatment court programs because every interaction involves a perception of culture.

Wheeler emphasized the significance of incorporating spiritual-based components into treatment programs to improve engagement and outcomes. He noted that minority groups experience lower rates of program participation and higher rates of non-completion of treatment and recidivism.

Padilla said understanding and appreciating a client's cultural background helps expand treatment opportunities and customize treatment plans to the participant. Deputy Chief Judge Anthony G. Milisauskas, Kenosha County Circuit Court, who heads Kenosha County's Drug Court, emphasized that "Treatment Courts need to incorporate cultural awareness into our programs to serve our local communities more efficiently and increase our graduation rates."

Terrance Walton, chief of standards for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, presented on issues involving relapse prevention planning and behavior modification. Walton cited research showing relapse rates of 40 percent to 60 percent at the one year mark for drug addicted offenders in treatment. However, clients who remain in treatment longer generally have better outcomes. Relapse prevention and responses help address early warning signs by identifying and mitigating relapse risk factors.

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Gerald P. Ptacek, who leads the Racine County's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court, commented on the ongoing goals of the training.

"This conference provided excellent information and has helped each team develop an action plan to address the issues of underrepresentation and lower success rates of blacks, Hispanics and women in our treatment courts. In six months each team will report on the progress it has made in implementing its plan. We hope to be able to measure and report improvement in the future," Ptacek said.

The materials from the conference are available on the website for The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread at

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