There are now 100 certified problem-solving courts in Indiana. A complete listing of problem-solving courts can be found online. Courts included in this list from Clark County include the courts of Judge Drew Adams, and Judge Vicki Carmichael.
Problem-solving courts include drug, reentry, mental health, veterans, family recovery, and domestic violence specialized courts. The certified courts seek to promote outcomes that benefit the litigants and their families, victims, and society.
Indiana reached 100 problem-solving courts with the certification of a veteran’s treatment court in Pulaski County. Judge Crystal Kocher is proud to have their certification bring Indiana to the notable mark. She explained, “This process has been a team effort with our supportive prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, community members, judges, and others from the 99 problem-solving courts already certified. We received grant funding, training opportunities, and encouragement to bring a veteran’s treatment court to our county. It highlights the need and possibilities for rural communities around the state to provide comprehensive services.”
The addition of the Pulaski veteran’s treatment court also brought the total number of Indiana counties served by a problem-solving court to 50. Several more are in the planning stages. Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush explained what makes the courts unique, “The innovative approach requires pioneering judges to coordinate with numerous resources in their supportive communities to provide intensive services and frequent court appearances for oversight.”
Individuals who wish to participate in a problem-solving court should contact their attorney to find out if they are eligible to participate. Counties that do not have a problem-solving court may transfer the supervision of the case to a county with a problem-solving court for program participation.
What Are Problem-Solving Courts?
Problem-solving courts began in the 1990s to accommodate justice involved individuals with specific needs and problems that were not or could not be adequately addressed in traditional courts. Problem-solving courts seek to promote outcomes that will benefit not only the justice involved individual, but the victim and society as well. Thus problem-solving courts were developed as an innovative response to deal with individuals’ needs, including drug abuse and mental illness. Results from studies show that these types of courts are having a positive impact on the lives of justice involved individuals and victims and in some instances provide cost-savings for jails and prisons.
In general, problem-solving courts share some common elements:
- Focus on Outcomes. Problem-solving courts are designed to provide positive case outcomes for victims, society and the justice involved individuals (e.g., reducing recidivism or creating safer communities).
- System Change. Problem-solving courts promote reform in how the government responds to problems such as drug addiction and mental illness.
- Judicial Involvement. Judges take a more hands-on approach to addressing problems and changing behaviors of individulas in these courts.
- Collaboration. Problem-solving courts work with external parties to achieve certain goals (e.g., developing partnerships with mental health providers).
- Non-traditional Roles. These courts and their personnel take on roles or processes not common in traditional courts. For example, some problem-solving courts are less adversarial than traditional criminal justice processing.
- Screening and Assessment. Use of screening and assessment tools to identify appropriate individuals for the court is common practice.
- Early identification of potential candidates. Use of screening and assessment tools to determine a defendant’s eligibility for the problem-solving court usually occurs early in the process.