Judge Aaron Koeppen leads the Camden County Treatment Court. His leadership and that of all other treatment court judges across the nation make a difference in a court’s outcomes and for participants, according to The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP).

Editor’s Note: This is the final piece of an ongoing series of Camden County treatment court inside looks.

Judge Aaron Koeppen leads the Camden County Treatment Court. His leadership and that of all other treatment court judges across the nation make a difference in a court’s outcomes and for participants, according to The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). Numerous studies about treatment courts show how crucial is the role of the judge. He or she leads the court team, consisting of law enforcers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, substance abuse treatment professionals, and probation and parole officers, and each team member impacts outcomes, but a judge’s positive interaction with participants is critical.

Judge Koeppen wants to help the participants understand that they cannot succeed if they do not value themselves. Phase one of the program is where participants learn how to discover their own self-image. To facilitate a positive self-image requires support. More important, Koeppen says, words of congratulations from the judge should be for more than just not using drugs for a few days. In many cases, those entering treatment courts have never experienced a positive and personal interaction with a judge outside of a formal court proceeding. Therefore, a positive one has the power to change lives.

Koeppen’s passion for the success of those working through the treatment court journey was on display at the first graduation ceremony recently as he chose to play two pieces of music based on the power and applicability of the lyrics.

The first, Glorious by David Archuleta, speaks to the discovery and development of the individual’s own self-worth.

The second, Let Me Fly, by Mike and the Mechanics, is a very positive and hopeful lyric.

The lines “...Let me fly, see how far I can go. None of us is born to be prisoners....” reflect Judge Koeppen’s observation that the participants must break free of the prison of their own addiction.

Koeppen’s song choices affirm the central and unique value of treatment courts. They restore or establish a quality of life for participants, and that, says Koeppen, is the real value of treatment courts. Treatment courts provide value beyond measure because “We cannot put a dollar value on the quality of life.”