Referents You May Not Know About

More secrets of the trade. If you are in the Treatment and Recovery Industry you work with the legal community whether you know it or not. It does not matter if you are a non-profit or an upscale luxury treatment center, people most often go to treatment when everything falls apart. More times than not this means jail. Here is a list of the possible referents someone meets when they are arrested, or should I say, people you should know.

Picture of referents

The Arresting Officer – As covered in a previous blog post, these guys meet more addicts and alcoholics than anyone else. They often arrest the same people continuously and desperately want to know how to help them. Make sure they know who you are and what you do so you can be the one they call. Be patient, nothing changes overnight but if you are persistent and not a burden, they will eventually respond. Once you have made friends with one officer you will start meeting others. Find out what events are important to them and be there to show support.

Every year, I buy a table at the Police Banquet to show my support and every year I meet more law enforcement. They are always happy to see the support and this event is like their prom; everyone is dressed up and having a great time. This is how we honor our heroes in blue. It’s a true collaboration because I am helping them with a problem and they are helping me become more effective.

The Jailer – They spend more time with each person than the arresting officer and see the same folks over and over. It may seem a bit tricky to meet the jailers; I assure you, it is not. Contact the local PD and ask for the Sergeant, Lieutenant, or Captain over the jail. Tell them you want to help them with a problem and explain how you would go about it. Even if you can only connect the dots and make referrals, be prepared to help the poor as much as the rich; everyone inclusively. Do not just drop a business card and ask that they call when someone has insurance. Put together your own database of centers with varied price points and specialties. If you prove yourself effective, you will hear from them.

Again, be patient. This idea of collaboration at this level may be as new to them as it is to you. It may take some time and follow up, however, all great referents take extra effort. I have specially printed index cards posted on the wall inside our city jail, I receive calls, and when I ask, I am granted access to the inmates.

Other Inmates – Nobody bats 1000. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women I have spoken to over the years that either did not want my help or would not listen. Inevitably, they end up back in jail. About a decade ago, I got a call from the county jail to come visit someone. I had never heard of this person and did not know this particular jailer. (County jails are much larger institutions with hundreds of employees.) We had a great conversation. When I asked how they got my name, I learned it was from another inmate I had met years earlier. He told this particular inmate that he really needed to get help and that I was the guy to help him.

You may consider becoming a volunteer at the jail to bring in 12-Step meetings or church services. This will put you in front of many inmates with each visit and over time you will meet thousands of people who will learn who you are, what you do, and have your contact information.

The Magistrate that sets bond – The person with this title sees every charge. In this city, we have been friends for many years and he has referred or released someone into my custody more time that I can recall. We have worked together on different projects and collaborated continuously to be more effective in battling addiction in our community. We have trained together and are currently working on the possibility of a sobering center where people arrested for public intoxication would be taken. They have the ability to make certain things happen; be one of his favorite tools.

Bail Bondsmen – Admittedly, I do not get many referrals from our bail bondsmen, however, they all know who I am and we tend to work with the same people. This is one of those areas where I have to take my own advice, be patient and try to engage them on a more meaningful plane. I am always looking for ways to break through barriers and include them in the processes. As of now, they know their clients are sober and where they are supposed to be while residing in my program. They also know when they leave. My hope is they will continue to see value in our relationship and make more referrals when needed.

Defense Attorney – Why wouldn’t you want to know all the defense attorneys you can? I frequently interface with the Bar Association as well as the Defense Bar to keep my name in the forefront of their minds. This is not a one time meeting, this is Marketing 101. Go to their conferences and award banquets, watch them in the courtroom, and hang out at the courthouse just like you would for any another group of referents you want to know. I have many good friends who practice Criminal and Family Law. They know and trust me. They also know I am going to be honest about how their client is progressing. Sometimes we agree that it would better serve everyone if I was not in the courtroom. Most will appreciate my candor, after all, my reputation at the Courthouse is built on my word and integrity, which is something I will not jeopardize for anyone or anything.

So why do you care about knowing lawyers? How are they referents?

If someone can afford $25,000 for their defense then they have insurance and can afford treatment. I find that upward of 50% of the “indigent” population has either insurance or means for modest treatment centers. Even if they are truly indigent and are willing to work, you can put together a treatment plan that includes sober living and 12-Step meetings. Either way, you have solved a big problem for the attorney.

Who do you think parents call first when their kid is arrested? I can tell you it is not a treatment center. Who do you want the law firm to call? If you, or anyone you know, has ever been arrested, start with the attorneys you’re familiar with. Let them see how good you are doing and what you do now to help other. That will carry more weight than you think. Everyone wants to know that people they helped have changed for the better.

Social Workers and Volunteers inside the Jail – In light of everything you have read so far, this should seem self-explanatory. Counselors, Social Workers, Churches, and 12-Steppers inside the jail can keep you busy.

Prosecutor – Yes, the prosecutors can also be referents. Remember when I said my reputation in the courthouse was solid? The prosecutors have seen people who will accept my help and what happens when they do not. They also know I will be honest no matter what so they can absolutely trust what I say in their office or on the stand. I have also become friends with a number of prosecutors in my county. I serve on three different Specialty Drug Courts which has only strengthened our relationship. Our Specialty Court Prosecutors are spot on.

Judge – The final authority in the courtroom. Understand that judges are attorneys who have been elected. In other words, I already had a working relationship with many of our judges before they were elected. Remember how important my word in the courtroom is? Since many of us already knew each other there is never a question about my integrity. They trust and often release people to our custody while awaiting trial. This gives the defendant the opportunity to demonstrate that they are serious about changing prior to the final judgement.

This only happens because I took the time to develop these crucial relationships. There was a day when I knew none of our judges. These relationships take time but they are well worth the effort. You will again find out what events are important to them and support it. I used to wonder where people went to get their picture taken with the governor. Are they well dressed stalkers with their cameras ready?

It happens at the types of events that are important to judges. Remember, they are elected officials. I now have a picture of myself with the Governor. The very next year I got my picture taken with Chuck Norris at the same event.

Probation and/or Parole Officers – This too should now be obvious. PO’s spend years supervising the offenders after they are released from jail. They too like to offer solutions for their parolees and probationers. Get to know the PO’s with substance abuse caseloads and do what you can to earn their trust and develop that relationship. Most department have monthly or bi-monthly staff meeting. Contact the director and ask to speak for a few minutes to introduce yourself and your services.

I always hear that everyone on probation is indigent but I assure you that is not so. No one wants to pay probation fees so they always have a reason why they are broke. I always ask, “If they are truly indigent, why do they so often go through $3,000 worth of dope when they go on a binge during a relapse?” They have the money when it is a priority to them.

This can be a tricky relationship but you will find the PO’s who are happy to work with you if you make the effort. I am not friends with all of them but I do have a number of meaningful relationships within the department, specifically the Probation Officer who serves on two Specialty Drug Courts with me.

I hope this list of referents helps. If you have any questions please leave a comment. For more info check out the Conference or Solutions of North Texas