What’s at Stake
Trauma is a
for almost all people with criminal legal system involvement

Although prevalence estimates vary, there is consensus that high percentages of women and men involved in the criminal legal system have experienced trauma throughout their lives. The reverberating effects of traumatic experiences can challenge a person’s capacity for recovery and pose significant barriers to accessing services, often resulting in an increased risk of coming into contact with the criminal legal system. Once a person with a serious trauma history becomes involved in the criminal legal system, the effects of their past experiences can pose a range of challenges to effectively navigating the system’s environments and requirements.

Our Solution

How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Judicial Decision-Making is a 2-hour training program that helps professionals who work in the court systems:

  • increase their understanding of trauma,
  • enhance their awareness of the impact of trauma on behavior, and
  • develop trauma-informed responses.

Trauma-informed criminal legal system responses can help to avoid retraumatizing individuals and thereby increase safety for all, decrease recidivism, and promote and support the recovery of people with system involvement. Partnerships across systems can also help to link individuals to trauma-informed services and treatment for trauma.

Our Model

Our 2-hour training is designed to be informative and engaging. We guide training participants through six modules, in which they learn the following: 

  • Why learn about trauma: Setting the stage on why it is important for court professionals to learn about trauma. 
  • What is trauma: Understanding the complexities of trauma, including how it is often ongoing for many people involved in the criminal legal system and how vicarious trauma can present in court professionals.  
  • Trauma’s effects: Learning how trauma—even trauma from decades ago—can present among people in contact with the criminal legal system. 
  • Becoming a trauma-responsive court: Identifying court practices that could be transformed to being trauma responsive and describing why trauma-responsive court practices can improve outcomes.  


This highly interactive training is tailored to criminal legal system professionals, including the following:

  • Judges
  • Court personnel, including bailiffs, court reports, attorneys
  • Other court professionals, including providers, peer specialists, and other professionals working in the court

Follow-Up Assistance

Follow-up technical help is not typically needed after participating in this training program. But representatives of some jurisdictions find additional assistance useful. If you and your community want more support, the Systems Mapping and Training Center is here. The Center can host follow-up meetings, give guidance and resources, assist with strategic planning, or connect you with topic experts. These follow-up opportunities are offered on a fee-for-service basis if the need comes up.