Community Courts

Resource Guide

Typically, a community court is a problem solving court that addresses quality of life or “nuisance” cases and takes a more proactive approach to public safety.  There are several different models for community courts.  Some meet in traditional courthouses and others meet in storefronts, former schools, or churches.  All of these courts are experimenting with different ways to provide appropriate services and sanctions.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Resources

Kaiser, K. A., Rhodes, K. A drug court by any other name? An analysis of problem-solving court programs. (2019).

This study used data from the 2012 Census of Problem-Solving Courts of 2,793 problem-solving court programs in the United States to examine differences between drug courts and other court types.

Thielo, Angela J., Cullen, Francis T., Burton, Alexander L., Moon, Melissa M., Burton, Jr., Velmer S. Prisons or Problem-Solving: Does the Public Support Specialty Courts?. (2019).

Based on a 2017 national survey of 1,000 respondents, the current study examines overall public support for rehabilitation as a goal of corrections and then focuses specifically on support for different types of specialty courts. The analysis reveals that the American public endorses not only the rehabilitative ideal but also the use of problem-solving courts. Further, with only minimal variation, strong support for these courts appears to exist regardless of political orientation and sociodemographic characteristics.

Indiana reaches milestone 100 problem-solving courts. (2019).

There are now 100 certified problem-solving courts in Indiana. A complete listing of problem-solving courts can be found online. Problem-solving courts include drug, reentry, mental health, veterans, family recovery, and domestic violence specialized courts. The certified courts seek to promote outcomes that benefit the litigants and their families, victims, and society.

Muftic, Lisa R., Updegrove, Alexander H. Effectiveness of A Problem-Solving Court for Individuals Charged with Misdemeanor Prostitution in Harris County Texas. (2019).

This exploratory study examines the effectiveness of SAFE Court, a prostitution problem-solving court located in Harris County, Texas (Houston).

Boatwright II, C. Joseph Solving the Problem of Criminalizing the Mentally Ill: The Miami Model. (2018).

56 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 135

Atkin-Plunk, Cassandra A., Peck, Jennifer H., Armstrong, Gaylene S. Do Race and Ethnicity Matter? An Examination of Racial/Ethnic Differences in Perceptions of Procedural Justice and Recidivism Among Problem-Solving Court Clients. (2017).

This study seeks to understand the complexities of judicial procedural justice and race/ethnicity within problem-solving courts. Using a convenience sample of 132 clients from two problem-solving courts in a southern state, this study addresses a void in the literature by examining the influence of race/ethnicity on perceptions of procedural justice as well as the impact of race/ethnicity and procedural justice on clients’ likelihood of recidivism.

Lee, C.G., F. Cheesman, D. Rottman, R. Swaner, S. Lambson, M. Rempel & R. Curtis A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. (2013). Williamsburg VA: National Center for State Courts. This report evaluating the Red Hook Community Justice Center concludes that the community court model can reduce crime and strengthen neighborhoods in a cost-efficient way.
Durkin, Mary et al. Process Evaluation of the Philadelphia Community Court Draft Report. (2007). National Center for State Courts The purpose of this process evaluation was to document the history, structure, and procedures of the program and to assess the extent to which the Philadelphia Community Court adhered to the operational plan, the key elements of the community court model, and the principles of problem-solving courts.
Sviridoff, Michele, David B. Rottman, and Robert Weidner Dispensing Justice Locally: The Impacts, Cost and Benefits of the Midtown Community Court. (2005). Center for Court Innovation. This multi-method research project was designed to examine the implementation, effects, costs and benfits of the court.
Sviridoff, Michele, David Rottman, Brian Ostrom, and Richard Curtis Dispensing Justice Locally: The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court. (2001). Center for Court Innovation. This report looks at the implementation and early effects of the Midtown Community Court over its first 18 months.

Community Justice

Berman, Greg Principles of Community Justice: A Guide for Community Court Planners. (2010). Center for Court Innovation This guide provides basic information and principles for developing community courts.
Katz, Shani Expanding the Community Court Model . (November 2009). Center for Court Innovation The current study tests the effects of an effort to extend community court practices beyond the community-based courthouse and into a larger centralized court context.
Karafin, Diana L. Community Courts Across the Globe: A Survey of Goals, Performance Measures and Operations. (January 2008). Open Society Foundation This survey reports on community courts from a global perspective, examining the differences between traditional and community courts, primary court goals and objectives, measures of success and community court indicators. 
Henry, Kelli and Dana Kralstein Community Court: The Research Literature. Center for Court Innovation This report includes a review of the findings of 19 community court evaluations which were completed as of the end of 2010.
D.C. Superior Court's Community Courts. District of Columbia Superior Court is expanding its Community Courts program citywide in January 2012.