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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. There are 53 Adult Drug Courts, 30 Veterans Courts, 24 Mental Health Courts, 22 Juvenile Drug Courts, 21 Early Childhood Courts, 15 Family Dependency Drug Courts, and 4 DUI Courts. Note: This map depicts the more commonly known problem-solving courts identified by the Office of the State Courts Administrator as of June 2018. Other types of problem-solving courts may be in operation in Florida.