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Problem-Solving Courts

Florida's problem-solving courts address the root causes of justice system involvement through specialized dockets, multidisciplinary teams, and a nonadversarial approach. Offering evidence-based treatment, judicial supervision, and accountability, problem-solving courts provide individualized interventions for participants, thereby reducing recidivism and promoting confidence and satisfaction with the justice system process.

 

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 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.

Click here to see a side-by-side glance of the core components of the six most prevalent types of problem-solving courts in Florida.

Image of Florida and the locations of the problem solving courts