A variety of problem solving court dockets are using the Drug Court model to address additional issues that we face as a society. As of June 30, 2012 there were 1,122 Problem Solving Courts in the U.S. Below are descriptions of some of these promising programs.


Click below to read the definitions of different Problem-Solving Courts, as found in scientific and scholarly literature:

+ Mental Health Court

Modeled after drug courts and developed in response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system, mental health courts divert select defendants with mental illnesses into judicially supervised, community-based treatment.  Currently, all mental health courts are voluntary.  Defendants are invited to participate in the mental health court following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation.  For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals works together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community.  (Council of State Governments, 2005).

+ Community Court

Community courts bring the court and community closer by locating the court within the community where “quality of life crimes” are committed (e.g., petty theft, turnstile jumping, vandalism, etc.).  With community boards and the local police as partners, community courts have the bifurcated goal of solving the problems of defendants appearing before the court, while using the leverage of the court to encourage offenders to “give back” to the community in compensation for damage they and others have caused (Lee, 2000).

+ Domestic Violence Court

A felony domestic violence court is designed to address traditional problems of domestic violence such as low reports, withdrawn charges, threats to victim, lack of defendant accountability, and high recidivism, by intense judicial scrutiny of the defendant and close cooperation between the judiciary and social services.  A permanent judge works with the prosecution, assigned victim advocates, social services, and the defense to ensure physical separation between the victim and all forms of intimidation from the defendant or defendant’s family throughout the entirety of the judicial process; provide the victim with the housing and job training needed to begin an independent existence from the offender (Mazur and Aldrich, 2003); and continuously monitor the defendant in terms of compliance with protective orders and substance abuse treatment (Winick, 2000).  Additionally, a case manager ascertains the victim’s needs and monitors cooperation by the defendant, and close collaboration with defense counsel ensures compliance with due process safeguards and protects defendant’s rights.Variants include the misdemeanor domestic violence court which handles larger volumes of cases and is designed to combat the progressive nature of the crime to preempt later felonies, and the integrated domestic violence court in which a single judge handles all judicial aspects relating to one family, including criminal cases, protective orders, custody, visitation, and even divorce (Mazur and Aldrich, 2003).

+ Gambling Court

Operating under the same protocols and guidelines utilized within the drug court model, gambling courts intervene in a therapeutic fashion as a result of pending criminal charges with those individuals who are suffering from a pathological or compulsive gambling disorder.  Participants enroll in a contract-based, judicially supervised gambling recovery program and are exposed to an array of services including Gamblers Anonymous (GA), extensive psychotherapeutic intervention, debt counseling, group and one-on-one counseling participation and, if necessary, drug or alcohol treatment within a drug court setting.  Participation by family members or significant others is encouraged through direct participation in counseling with offenders and the availability of support programs such as GAM-ANON (M. Farrell, personal communication, April 7, 2005).

+ Truancy Court

Rather than take the traditional punitive approach to truancy, truancy courts assist in overcoming the underlying causes of truancy in a child’s life by reinforcing education through efforts from the school, courts, mental health providers, families, and the community.  Guidance counselors submit reports on the child’s weekly progress throughout the school year that the court uses to enable special testing, counseling, or other necessary services as required.  Truancy court is often held on the school grounds and results in the ultimate dismissal of truancy petitions if the child can be helped to attend school regularly (National Truancy Prevention Association, 2005).  Many courts have reorganized to form special truancy court dockets within the juvenile or family court. Consolidation of truancy cases results in speedier court dates and more consistent sentencing, and makes court personnel more attuned to the needs of truant youth and their families (National Center for School Engagement).

+ Gun Court

Gun Courts are typically designed for youths and young adults who have committed gun offenses that have not resulted in serious physical injury. Gun Court focuses on educating defendants about gun safety and provides an infrastructure for direct and immediate responses to defendants who violate court orders. By consolidating all gun cases into one court docket, the assets needed for a prompt adjudication of these offenses and the coordination of efforts by numerous agencies and non-profit organizations in reducing the number of illegal guns on the streets are improved.

+ Homeless Court

Homeless Courts help homeless people charged with summary or nuisance offenses secure housing and obtain social services needed for stabilization. Participation in services substitutes for fines and custody. These services include substance abuse and mental health treatment, health care, life skills, literacy classes, and vocational training.