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Problem-Solving Courts

BACKGROUND

In 1989, Florida started the national problem-solving court movement by creating the first drug court in the United States in Miami-Dade County. Other types of problem-solving court dockets subsequently followed, using the drug court model, and were implemented to assist individuals with a range of problems such as drug addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, and homelessness.

DEFINING ELEMENTS

Problem-solving courts offer a specialized court docket and include, but are not limited to, the following elements:

Problem-solving team. A broad-based team of justice system stakeholders including judges, case managers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment professionals, law enforcement officers, corrections personnel, and guardians ad litem.

Non-adversarial approach. A commitment to offering alternatives to the traditional adversarial litigation process.

Continuum of individualized treatment services. An array of services (preferably evidence-based services) designed to identify and meet the unique needs of each participant.

Judicial leadership and interaction. A judge who leads the problem-solving team and monitors the court case using an increased number of hearings for monitoring compliance and progress.

Responses to participant compliance. The use of graduated, individualized, and coordinated responses, both for incentives and sanctions, to promote both public safety and the participants’ success.

FLORIDA’S PROBLEM-SOLVING COURTS

There are over 170 problem-solving court dockets in Florida including, but not limited to:

96 drug courts (59 adult drug courts, 22 juvenile delinquency drug courts, 15 family dependency drug courts)

28 mental health courts

28 veterans courts

17 early childhood courts (parents and very young children in dependency court)

2 permanency court (children who have been involved in dependency court for two or more years)

QUICK FACTS

  • There were over 7,300 admissions into Florida’s drug courts in 2015.
  • In 2015, there were 205 children reunited with their parents in Florida due to dependency drug courts.
  • In 2015, there were 112 drug-free babies born to female participants while in drug court.