Synopses & Reviews
Public confidence in American criminal courts is at an all-time low. Victims, communities, and even offenders view courts as unable to respond adequately to complex social and legal problems including drugs, prostitution, domestic violence, and quality-of-life crime. Even many judges and attorneys think that the courts produce assembly-line justice.
Increasingly embraced by even the most hard-on-crime jurists, problem-solving courts offer an effective alternative. As documented by Greg Berman and John Feinblatt—both of whom were instrumental in setting up New York’s Midtown Community Court and Red Hook Community Justice Center, two of the nation’s premier models for problem-solving justice—these alternative courts reengineer the way everyday crime is addressed by focusing on the underlying problems that bring people into the criminal justice system to begin with.
The first book to describe this cutting-edge movement in detail, Good Courts features, in addition to the Midtown and Red Hook models, an in-depth look at Oregon’s Portland Community Court and reviews the growing body of evidence that the problem-solving approach to justice is indeed producing positive results around the country.
"'There's no reason why justice has to be one-size-fits-all,' argue the authors of this plainspoken guide to problem-solving courtrooms. In these courtrooms, the judge, prosecution and defense are not adversaries. Instead, once a defendant opts into a problem-solving court, all parties work as a team to address the needs of both the defendant-whom they seek to rehabilitate more than to punish-and the community at large. Although supporters of problem-solving courts have much to celebrate owing to high-profile successes, their detractors raise concerns about how well the rights of a defendant are protected when the judge, prosecution and defense sit on the same side of the table to decide what's best for the accused. Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation think tank, and Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt do a decent job addressing these and other objections, but in the end, the issue is not so much whether problem-solving courts satisfy the requirements of the traditional courtroom as whether the traditional courtroom fits the judicial topography of 21st-century America. The authors don't go so far as to dismiss the traditional courtroom out of hand, but their book seems to suggest that the problem-solving approach could replace traditional courts in most if not all cases. Sociologists and those within the legal system will no doubt be intrigued by this accessible and provocative call for change. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
- There are more than 2,000 problem-solving courts across the United States
- Drug-addicted offenders who successfully complete treatment in problem-solving courts are 71% less likely to be rearrested
- In New York State alone, it is estimated that problem-solving drug courts have saved more than $254 million in incarceration costs
About the Author
Greg Berman is the director of the Center for Court Innovation, a think tank that works to improve the performance of state courts and criminal justice agencies.
John Feinblatt is the Criminal Justice Coordinator of the City of New York. They both live in New York City.