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Specialized Courts

Date Published
March 13, 2013

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.

Number and Types of Specialized Courts
(As of June 2015)[1]
Type of Court Number
Mental Health Courts 427
Truancy Courts 267
Domestic Violence Courts 176
Other Problem Solving Courts 168
Child Support Courts 68
Community Courts 57
Federal Reentry Courts 44
Reentry Courts 33
Prostitution Courts 30
Homelessness Courts 22
Sex Offender Courts 8
Parole Violation Courts 6
Gun Courts 2
Federal Problem Solving Courts 2
Total 1,310

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:

[note 1] Counts and map of drug court programs provided by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. 

National Institute of Justice, "Specialized Courts," March 13, 2013, nij.ojp.gov:
Date Created: March 13, 2013