Launched in 1993, the Midtown Community Court targets quality-of-life offenses, such as prostitution, illegal vending, graffiti, shoplifting, farebeating and vandalism. Typically in these cases, judges are forced to choose between a few days of jail time and nothing at all—sentences that fail to impress upon the victim, the community and the defendants that these offenses are taken seriously. In contrast, the Midtown Community Court sentences low-level offenders to pay back the neighborhood through community service, while at the same time offering them help with problems that often underlie criminal behavior. Midtown's judge has an array of sanctions and services at her disposal. These include community restitution projects, short-term psychoeducational groups, and long-term treatment such as drug treatment, mental health treatment, and trauma-focused psychotherapy; for a list of current social service programs, click here. Midtown features an on-site clinic staffed by social service professionals who use trauma-focused, strengths-based, and evidence-informed clinical approaches to assess and connect individuals to appropriate services. The Midtown Court celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013.
Thousands of problem-solving courts are testing new approaches to difficult cases where social, human and legal problems intersect. In recent years, many in the field have sought to "go to scale" with problem-solving justice, testing key problem-solving principles outside of the specialized court context. The Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice funded ten demonstration projects around the U.S. in support of this effort.
To get help planning, implementing, or evaluating a problem-solving initiative, click here.