Peggy Fulton Hora
April 2, 2011
Chapman Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 7, 2011
Problem-solving courts began with the creation of the first adult drug treatment court in Miami, Florida, in 1989. This court spawned a movement of drug courts in the United States, which now number in excess of 2,300, plus more than 1,200 other types of courts using similar principles. These “problem-solving courts,” as they have come to be known, now number more than 3,500 in the United States including at least one drug court in every state, Federal district court programs, over seventy Tribal Healing-to-Wellness courts, and international courts in some twenty countries; the first international court having been established in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1998. Beginning with the key components of drug courts that were published in 1994, attempts to define what exactly constitutes a problem-solving court began to proliferate at the turn of the Century. Con-currently, there is a movement to bring problem-solving courts to scale, in essence turning every court into a problem-solving court. Some authors have concentrated on these efforts rather than seeking to define specific types of court. Based on a literature review, this article explores the international principles as noted by various authors and stresses both the similarities and differences in those standards. It defines the types of problem-solving courts and reviews the general principles of them. As these tenets are applied to the traditional court setting, there is a shift to notions such as therapeutic jurisprudence and procedural fairness. The article concludes that we can define such principles while allowing differences to emerge when the legal culture so dictates and that these principles are transferable to non-specialty courts. Moreover, problem-solving courts are requiring a whole new set of skills and behaviors from judges including emotional intelligence and motivational interviewing, as well as knowledge of the stages of behavioral change.