NLADA (National Legal Aid and Defender Association) has awarded the Clara Shortridge Foltz Award to Public Defender Services. Ms. Foltz in 1893 expressed a vision for the defense of indigent individuals through public programs.
The award is made in recognition of the agency's recovery coach program as designed and overseen by Stephanne Thornton. Recovery coaches are embedded in public defender corporations throughout the state and, as individuals with lived experience, provide invaluable assistance to clients with substance use disorders including obtaining treatment or counseling at their earliest intersection with the legal system rather than at an endpoint.
Thanks are given to Michele Rusen, the Public Defender for the 4th Judicial Circuit, West Virginia, for planting the seeds for such a program, to Stephanne Thornton for obtaining grants to expand the program, and to Secretary McVey, the Office of Governor, and the Legislature for providing sustained funding for the statewide program.