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Problem Solving Courts

Tribunales para la resolución de problemas

Adult Drug Court

An Adult Drug Court is a treatment based program for adults who are charged with certain felony crimes and facing criminal prosecution. The purpose of the program is to offer non-traditional and individualized treatment for chemical dependency as an alternative to criminal prosecution. The program features a team approach to rigorous treatment, coordinated with intensive supervision, random drug and alcohol testing, regular and frequent court appearances and educational opportunities. A combination of rewards and sanctions are utilized to motivate and encourage participants toward recovery. The participant's progression through the various phases of the program is appropriately recognized.


DWI Drug Court

DWI Drug Court is a distinct post-conviction court system dedicated to changing the behavior of the alcohol/drug dependent offender arrested for Driving While Impaired (DWI). The goal of the DWI court is to protect public safety by using the drug court model to address the root cause of impaired driving: alcohol and other substance abuse. Variants of DWI courts include drug courts that also take DWI offenders, which are commonly referred to as “hybrid” DWI courts or DWI/drug courts.

The DWI court utilizes all criminal justice stakeholders (prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, and others) along with alcohol or drug treatment professionals. This group of professionals comprises a “DWI Court Team,” and uses a cooperative approach to systematically change participant behavior. This approach includes identification and referral of participants early in the legal process to a full continuum of drug or alcohol treatment and other rehabilitative services. Compliance with treatment and other court mandated requirements is verified by frequent alcohol/drug testing, close community supervision, and interaction with the judge in non-adversarial court review hearings. During these review hearings, the judge employs a science-based response to participant compliance (or non-compliance) in an effort to further the team’s goal to encourage pro social, sober behaviors that will prevent DWI recidivism (Loeffler & Huddleston, 2003).


Family Dependency Court

Family Dependency Treatment Court is a juvenile or family court docket of which selected abuse, neglect, and dependency cases are identified where parental substance abuse is a primary factor. Judges, attorneys, child protection services, and treatment and other social and public health personnel unite with the goal of providing safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for children while simultaneously providing parents the necessary support and services to become drug and alcohol abstinent. Family dependency treatment courts aid parents in regaining control of their lives, ensure the provision of necessary services for children, and promote long term stabilized recovery to enhance the possibility of family reunification within mandatory legal time frames (Wheeler & Siegerist, 2003).

The Family Dependency Court works with parent(s)/guardian(s) who are in danger of losing custody of their children due to abuse or neglect charges.

Goals of family/dependency courts include:

  • Provide parent(s)/guardians(s) with an opportunity to be clean and sober;
  • Provide support to aid them in resisting further criminal activity; and skills that will aid them in leading productive, substance-free and crime-free lives;
  • Help the parent to become emotionally, financially, and personally self-sufficient;
  • Increase the personal, familial, and societal accountability of offenders;
  • Help the parent(s)/guardian(s) develop adequate parenting and "coping" skills to be able to serve as an effective parent on a day-to-day basis; and
  • Decrease the amount of time needed to determine if reunification is a plausible goal.

Juvenile Drug Court

Juvenile Drug Court is a docket within a juvenile court to which selected delinquency cases, and in some instances, status offenders, are referred for handling by a designated judge. The youth referred to this docket are identified as having problems with alcohol and/or other drugs. The juvenile drug court judge maintains close oversight of each case through regular status hearings with the parties involved. The judge both leads and works as a member of a team that comprises representatives from treatment, juvenile justice, social and mental health services, school and vocational training programs, law enforcement, probation, the prosecution, and the defense. Over the course of a year or more, the team meets frequently (often weekly), determining how best to address the substance abuse and related problems of the youth and his or her family that have brought the youth into contact with the justice system (BJA, 2003).


Mental Health or "Treatment" Court

Treatment Court is modeled after drug courts and developed in response to the over representation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, treatment courts divert select defendants with mental illness into judicially supervised, community-based treatment. Currently, all treatment courts are voluntary. Defendants are invited to participate in the treatment court following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation. For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff, social services, and mental health professionals works together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community. Participants typically appear at regular status hearings where incentives are offered to reward adherence to court conditions, sanctions for non-adherence are handed down, and treatment plans and other conditions are periodically reviewed for appropriateness. Completion (sometimes called graduation) is defined according to specific criteria (Council of State Governments, 2005).