June 14, 2005

Problem-Solving Courts

The Center for Court Innovation is an interesting organization I stumbled across earlier today. Tragically, someone in charge of the website thought it would be a cute idea to make all the text aligned right, but once you're done fuming at that, the actual idea being touted here—"problem-solving courts"—seems like something worthy of attention:
This amounts to a significant departure from business as usual in the courts – an institution that is not known for embracing change lightly. What does this look like in practice? Instead of adversarial sparring, prosecutors and defenders in some problem-solving courts work together to encourage defendants to succeed in drug treatment. Instead of embracing the tradition of judicial isolation, judges in problem-solving courts become actively involved in their communities, meeting with residents and brokering relationships with local service providers. Perhaps most importantly, instead of being passive observers, citizens are welcomed into the process, participating in advisory boards, organizing community service projects and meeting face to face with offenders to explain the impact of their crimes on neighborhoods.
Here's a New York Times article on the subject. Law Professor Timothy Casey goes in-depth into some of the challenges here. And this post by Peter Levine on the subject explains the civic significance of these sorts of courts.
-- Brad Plumer 6:51 PM || ||