The Rise of ‘Problem Solving’ Courts Continues

As you might have read in our Sunday piece about Kitsap County’s juvenile drug court, the use of similar so-called “problem solving” courts are still gaining momentum around the nation.

Just what is a “problem solving” court? Here’s a great definition, by way of the Minnesota Judicial Branch:

“… The court works closely with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and other justice system partners to develop a strategy that will pressure an offender into completing a treatment program and abstaining from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court.

Problem-solving court strategies include extended probation, frequent appearances before a judge, frequent meetings with probation officers, staggered sentencing that breaks up jail time into segments and allows the participant to “earn” reductions in jail time with good behavior, and regular alcohol and other drug testing.”

You might be surprised to know that there are different kinds of problem solving courts now. In fact, in here in Washington, we have two veteran’s courts (in Thurston and King counties) as well as DUI courts and family drug courts (including here in Kitsap). Kitsap County was also home to the first juvenile mental health court.

Here’s an interesting piece on veteran’s courts, courtesy of Slate.com.

The first drug court debuted in 1989 in Florida. Since then, they’ve been springing up all over the place, backed up by statistics showing they reduce recidivism and save us money. I have long followed the story of John Houston, who graduated from Kitsap County’s adult drug court.

I’ll leave you with a question: What do you think of such courts? Please feel free to answer the poll on the right as well. I’ve also posted Washington state’s report on problem solving courts below for your perusal.

Treatment Courts in Washington

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