Problem-solving justice seeks to go beyond processing cases to solve the problems that bring people to court.
Problem-solving courts, such as drug and mental health courts, work to engage the community in addressing the underlying conditions that fuel crime. Today, thousands of such courts are testing new approaches to difficult cases where social, human, and legal problems intersect. But along with these individual courts, problem-solving justice is also about taking the approach to scale.
Embedded in centralized courthouses, for example, our Bronx Community Solutions, Brooklyn Justice Initiatives, and Newark Community Solutions each handle thousands of cases per year, offering services and community-based alternatives to jail and fines. Through our work implementing these ambitious projects, we offer a range of customized training and technical assistance plans and publications for jurisdictions interested in applying problem-solving justice principles in centralized courthouses.
Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions applies a problem-solving approach to cases in the Bronx centralized criminal court, providing judges with community-based alternatives to jail and fines.
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives seeks to improve how the centralized criminal court in Brooklyn responds to misdemeanor and felony cases.
Newark Community Solutions
Newark Community Solutions applies a problem-solving approach to low-level cases in Newark, New Jersey’s municipal courthouse.
Statewide Strategic Planning for Problem-Solving Courts
We provide thoughtful planning and coordination for problem-solving courts to ensure best practices and the best possible outcomes.
The Red Hook Community Justice Center has become an international model of justice reform by implementing innovative strategies that have reduced the use of jail, lowered recidivism and strengthened public confidence in justice. This short film about the Justice Center produced by the Center for Court Innovation was selected as a 2016 finalist in the TV/Video category of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's Media for A Just Society Awards.
With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the National Center for State Courts completed this independent evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in 2013. The evaluation found that the Justice Center's emphasis on alternatives to incarceration, including community restitution projects and social services, helped reduce the use of jail even as it helped reduce recidivism among misdemeanor offenders.
The threat of incarceration has long been seen in some quarters as the best incentive to ensure people’s engagement in court-ordered treatment. But what if that assumption is wrong? This research brief argues the central element governing the effectiveness of treatment is the quality of the human interaction that accompanies it.
"Community courts connect defendants with services that can change their lives. That’s something traditional courts aren’t equipped to do," says Julius Lang, a senior advisor at the Center, of the importance of community courts. Through a grant from the Department of Justice, the Center is assisting jurisdictions across the U.S. implement these programs.
New York City's problem-solving courts reopened on May 4. In Brooklyn, this includes our mental health court, presided by Judge D'Emic, along with a treatment court and domestic violence court, which provide defendants with services and mental health treatment to aid their rehabilitation under a single judge.