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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 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:

  • 95 drug courts (46 adult felony drug courts, 7 adult misdemeanor drug courts, 22 juvenile drug courts, 16 family dependency drug courts, and 4 DUI courts)
  • 27 mental health courts
  • 30 veterans courts
  • 18 early childhood courts (parents and very young children in dependency court)
  • 2 permanency courts (children who have been involved in dependency court for two or more years)