Drug courts bring together judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, and court staff in a collaborative effort to address defendants’ substance use disorders. Due in part to a groundbreaking study by researchers from the Center for Court Innovation, there is a broad consensus that drug courts reduce substance use and recidivism. In recognition of its work in this domain, the Center received the National Leadership Award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
Mental health courts similarly link participants who would ordinarily be prison-bound to long-term community-based treatment. They rely on thorough mental health assessments, individualized treatment plans, and ongoing judicial monitoring to address both the mental health needs of offenders and the public safety concerns of communities.
Brooklyn Mental Health Court
The Brooklyn Mental Health Court offers community-based treatment in lieu of incarceration to defendants with serious mental health diagnoses.
Brooklyn Treatment Court
The Brooklyn Treatment Court links nonviolent, substance-abusing defendants to drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration.
This Urban Institute evaluation of two mental health courts in New York City finds that mental health court participants are significantly less likely to recidivate, as compared to similar offenders with mental illness who experience business-as-usual court processing.
An examination of factors associated with program compliance and recidivism in the Brooklyn Mental Health Court, this report documents that prior criminal history and having a co-occurring substance disorder predict noncompliance, mental health court failure, and re-arrest.
The movement to elect reform-minded prosecutors has been around long enough and scored enough victories that progressive D.A.s now have their own support network: Fair and Just Prosecution. Miriam Krinsky, its executive director, explains why she thinks "starry-eyed idealists" who want to transform the justice system need to get the message that "the biggest difference they can make is to go and work in a prosecutor's office."
Writing in USA Today, former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman argues that incarceration isn't appropriate for everyone, including some violent offenders, and he cites our Brooklyn Mental Health Court as a model alternative.
In her State of Our Judiciary address, New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore says the model for the Bronx's new opioid court—offering treatment and services through our Bronx Community Solutions in lieu of a guilty plea and incarceration—will be expanded across New York City.