It implies that they are beneficial at reducing substance abuse and recidivism. They are especially successful with criminals who are more likely to reoffend. The evidence supporting juvenile drug courts, on the other hand, is unfavorable. It implies that they have either no or negative effects on juvenile criminals. Perhaps the most important implication for policy makers is that they cannot be judged by their results. Whether or not they succeed in reducing crime is irrelevant; what matters is whether they are effective in helping young people.
Juvenile drug courts were established in the 1990s as a way to handle increasing rates of drug use among youth. Instead of treating addiction as a private matter, which often led to incarceration or dropping out of school, it was believed that providing treatment alongside enforcement of drug laws would be more effective. There are currently about 300 such courts across the United States. They vary in how they are organized but usually include some type of joint session of court and law enforcement officials at which agreements are made regarding supervision of offenders while they receive treatment and counseling.
The research on juvenile drug courts has been inconsistent. Some studies have shown that they can be effective in reducing crime rates if used in conjunction with strict probation conditions. However, others have found no effect on criminal behavior regardless of probation conditions. Still another study showed that juveniles who go through drug courts are more likely to commit crimes after they leave than those who did not participate in the program.
Now the research is quite clear. When addressing high-risk, high-need offenders, drug courts are most successful. They reduce arrests and admissions to prison, and increase employment and housing opportunities after release. Drug courts also improve outcomes for participants who do not go on to commit more crimes.
Problem-solving courts aim to reduce crime and improve community safety by pairing defendants who have been arrested for low-level offenses with trained volunteers who serve as "problem-solvers." Defendants are expected to work with their advisers to identify issues that may lead to future criminal activity and agree on a course of action they can both live with. If the defendant commits another crime after being released, he or she will be brought back before the court. Problem-solving courts have been shown to be equally effective in reducing recidivism among defendants charged with violent crimes as well.
Drug courts were initially developed in 1989 by the City of Seattle as an effort to combat increasing numbers of drug-related arrests. Since then, many other jurisdictions have adopted similar programs.
Research shows that drug courts can effectively reduce incarceration rates for people charged with drug-related offenses, without sacrificing effectiveness for those involved with other types of courts.
Problem-solving courts target juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, domestic violence, and mental health by pushing treatment programs that address the underlying causes of criminal conduct. Treatment is an appealing alternative to the traditional criminal justice system in each of these instances. Problem-solving courts are designed to provide services directly to individuals who would otherwise be handled through the court process.
Research has shown that people who participate in problem-solving courts tend to stay out of jail and are less likely to die before their sentences are completed. These courts also report lower rates of recidivism than traditional courts.
Problem-solving courts can be a valuable tool for reducing crime and improving public safety. They give people who have often been excluded from traditional rehabilitation programs a chance to work toward resolving their problems without being punished for their offenses. These courts can help at-risk youth avoid involvement in the criminal justice system, while giving them the skills needed to become productive members of society upon release.
Encouraging more participation in problem-solving courts could help reduce prison populations and better allocate resources. However, there is some evidence that certain types of defendants may be overrepresented in these courts; therefore, they may not be fully utilizing their capabilities. Further research should be done on gender disparities, racial profiling, and other forms of discrimination within these courts.
Evidence from the United States demonstrates that drug courts can enhance persons' monitoring and subject them to harsher punishments than they would have received otherwise, making them occasionally an adjunct rather than an alternative to jail. However, studies also show that such courts do not always reduce arrests or convictions of participants who continue using drugs.
Drug courts were developed in the early 1990s as a way for state governments to provide drug treatment services outside of traditional probation systems. Drug court programs vary depending on which elements are included but generally consist of weekly or daily hearings before a judge where participants plead guilty or not guilty for charges related to their participation in the program. Participants who admit guilt are given rewards in exchange for completing requirements such as counseling and testing for drugs. Those who deny guilt may be able to have their charges dismissed or reduced through plea bargaining. Participants who fail to comply with requirements or who commit new crimes are sent to jail or another facility. Sentences are usually between six months and five years depending on the severity of offenses charged.
Studies have shown that drug court participants are more likely to complete required treatment and avoid further criminal activity than individuals who do not participate in the program. However, research has also demonstrated that drug court participants are no more likely to be arrested or convicted for new crimes after participating in the program than those who did not participate.