The scope of criminal court research and evaluation has grown with the advent of specialized or problem-solving courts. Examples of specialized courts include drug courts, domestic violence courts, reentry courts, and veterans treatment courts.
The Specialized or Problem-Solving Court Model
Specialized courts differ from traditional courts in that they focus on one type of offense or offender.
An interdisciplinary team, led by a judge (or parole authority), works collaboratively to achieve two goals:
- Case management to expedite case processing and reduce caseload and time to disposition, thus increasing trial capacity for more serious crimes.
- Therapeutic jurisprudence to reduce criminal offending through therapeutic and interdisciplinary approaches that address addiction and other underlying issues without jeopardizing public safety and due process.
The most common specialized courts are drug courts, but several other types of programs apply similar approaches to address violent and repeat offending, and returns to incarceration. [Note: Repeat offending is often referred to as "recidivism" in criminal justice research.]
Learn more about:
Other NIJ projects in this area include:
- NIJ’s Multisite Evaluation of Veterans Treatment Courts that examines models (mentoring), processes (participant needs and services), recidivism, and other outcomes. Read the article "Identifying Those Who Served: Modeling Potential Participant Identification in Veterans Treatment Courts," in the inaugural issue of Drug Court Review, published by the National Drug Court Resource Center.
- NIJ’s completed Evaluation of Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts that examines program processes, impacts, and costs.
- Past evaluations of two community court programs, see A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, (Executive Summary) (pdf, 13 pages), and Dispensing Justice Locally: The Impact, Costs, and Benefits of the Midtown Community Court (pdf, 361 pages).