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Accountability courts: social responsibility

December 28, 2020

State Courts’ Responsibility to Convene, Collaborate, and Identify Individuals Across Systems, which appeared in Trends in State Courts (2020) addresses the needs of individuals who frequently cycle through social services systems. The authors indicate that to have a robust profile of individuals cycling through systems, we should examine data from multiple sources, like behavioral-health services, homeless services, and jail or court records. Beyond data collect the article examines the role the courts should play in this process:

  • Be advocates and leaders of change
  • Recognize opportunities for growth and improvement
  • Be receptive to innovation and change
  • Establish relationships with service providers in the jurisdiction

The article also indicates that “[c]ourts have a duty not only to focus on the cost of addressing the needs of individuals who cycle through various community systems but also to respond to the core issues contributing to frequent utilizers.”  How these issues are addressed varies from state to state. Georgia, for example, uses its Accountability Court Program to find methods other than incarceration to help people rehabilitate out of the cycle of recidivism. Created in 2012, the program is focused on reducing incarceration rates, saving lives, and restoring families. The program focuses on addiction and other root causes that result in destructive behaviors by focusing on treatment, enhanced supervision, and individual accountability. A 2017 review of the program released by Georgia's Council of Accountability Court Judges and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council found the program produced 1,729 graduates and generated $38.2 million in economic benefits.

For more information on accountability programs and problem-solving courts and efforts, visit the National Center for State Courts’ problem-solving courts webpage.

Tell us how your court collects data to help clients and share with us the success of your problem-solving courts by following the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

For more information on this or other topics impacting state courts, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.