While the most widely recognized problem-solving court is the drug court, other examples include mental health courts, veterans courts, homeless courts, truancy courts, and some forms of family courts. Generally, a problem solving court involves a single judge that works with a community team to develop a case plan and closely monitor a defendant’s compliance, imposing proper sanctions when necessary.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may
be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
Established in San Francisco, in 2015, for eligible young adults, ages 18-25, in response to the growing body of neuroscience which finds young adults are fundamentally different from both juveniles and older adults in how they process information and make decisions.
The National Drug Court Institute's survey breaks down the number and type of problem-solving courts per state, analyzes the effectiveness of the various types of problem-solving courts, and recommends best practices. From its most recently collected data in 2014, the report found 3,057 drug courts and 1,311 problem-solving courts (other than drug courts) operating in the U.S.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (2012). This census describes the type, location, and characteristics of all known problem-solving courts in 2012. The report presents information on funding sources, disqualifying offenses, points of entry, status hearings, services, and benefits to participants.
(2007). National Center for State Courts.This Toolkit offers a blueprint for using the problem-solving approach, a form of differentiated case management for cases involving recurring contacts with the justice system due to underlying medical and social problems.
The success of pilot courts in Queens, Midtown Manhattan, and Nassau County led New York to a statewide Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative, creating a statewide system of courts designed to intervene in the lives of trafficked human beings. The courts help identify appropriate defendants/victims charged with prostitution and related offenses and provide linkages to services that once completed can help them have their cases dismissed or receive non-criminal dispositions.
Changing Actions to Change Habits (CATCH) is a specialty docket program in which defendants/victims participate in closely supervised, comprehensive assessment and treatment services, in which the participants are held accountable for their criminal behaviors and for adherence to the program requirements. This Evaluation Study of the CATCH program discusses its strengths and weaknesses.
(2012). Future Trends in State Courts. Since 1980, the Cleveland Housing Court has been developing unique solutions to Cleveland’s many and ever-changing housing challenges. It provides a model both for dedicated housing courts and for general courts seeking a problem-solving approach to nuisance abatement, foreclosure, vacancy, and abandonment.
(2012). National Center for State Courts. This report provides information on effective court related strategies to address criminal and addictive behaviors. Information is provided on risk needs assessments, problem solving courts and collaborative justice system planning.
(May 2010). Indiana Court Times. This article reviews existing problem solving courts and problem solving courts that are in the planning stage.
Jordan Smith (2010). The Austin Chronicle. This article looks at the ten specialized courts operating in Austin and discusses the pros and cons.
(2009). National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. This report examines the procedures used in problem-solving courts, highlights best practices, and makes recommendations for change based on analysis by the criminal defense bar.
From 2011 to 2014, the Polaris Project rated all 50 states and D.C. based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to a basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers and supports survivors.
(2011). Future Trends in State Courts. Many trial courts will face heightened scrutiny from public-funding bodies regarding problem-solving courts. Numerous studies support the cost-effectiveness of such courts, but some court watchers see a struggle looming on the horizon.
(2005). Ottawa: National Judicial Institute Handbook for judges comes from a Canadian perspective. It provides an introduction to therapeutic jurisprudence, practical suggestions for implementing therapeutic principles, and guidelines.
(2009). Center for Court Innovation and the California Administrative Office of the Courts This report details the results of the first-ever national survey of judicial attitudes toward problem-solving justice. The survey included more than 1,000 trial court judges across the country. Among other findings, the results indicate that three in four judges approve of problem-solving methods.
(2008). Justice System Journal (Vol. 28, No. 3). This article details the different roles in problem-solving courts play as opposed to traditional judges, and examines the 2007 ABA Model Code in reference to problem-solving courts, specifically the unique ethical dilemmas judges in these courtrooms are prone to face.