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April 26, 2005

NY Times examines "problem-solving" courts

The New York Times has this long and interesting article discussing New York's experiences with drug courts and other problem solving courts.  Here's the opening:

Starting about 15 years ago ... some judges began ... intervening in the lives of drug addicts to get them into treatment and keep them out of overcrowded jails and overburdened courtrooms.  Now, in drug treatment courts, judges are cheerleaders and social workers as much as jurists.

New York State is pushing this approach to new frontiers, creating a homelessness court, domestic violence courts and mental health courts.  Backed by the state's chief judge, and bolstered by the court system's own research, these new courts are, among other things, trying to cut down on the number of people who appear in courtrooms over and over again.

The piece seems a bit too rosy in spots, but my own optimistic instincts makes me want to believe these courts (and concepts of "therapeutic justice") are a very positive development in the criminal justice field.  I have previously provided a lot of resources about drug courts in this prior post.

April 26, 2005 at 01:06 AM | Permalink


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If courts are to solve problems, what they mostly need is resources. A drug court will be only as successful as the availability of real treatment alternatives permits. The absence of such alternatives dooms them. (This has long been true of family and juvenile courts.) In the end, the success of these courts takes money, and no one wants to pay it. Thus, their likely failure.

Posted by: David in NY | Apr 27, 2005 5:02:02 PM

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