Problem-solving courts have become a part of the fabric of our justice system with nearly 300 operational courts and more in various stages of planning. Problem-solving courts take different forms depending on the problems they are designed to address. Drug and mental health courts focus on treatment and rehabilitation. Community courts combine treatment, community responsibility, accountability and support to both litigants and victims. Integrated youth courts utilize the full array of family court and criminal court remedies to improve outcomes for adolescents entering the courts and for their communities. Sex offense, domestic violence and integrated domestic violence courts employ judicial monitoring and the use of mandated programs and probation to ensure compliance, facilitate access to services and remove artificial barriers between case types.
- Integrated Domestic Violence Courts (IDV): Dedicated to the “one family – one judge” model, IDV Courts respond to a historic problem in the court system, which requires domestic violence victims and their families to appear in different courts before multiple judges, often located in different parts of a county, to address their legal issues. By connecting one judge with one family, IDV Courts aim to provide more informed judicial decision-making and greater consistency in court orders, while reducing the number of court appearances. In addition, these courts offer enhanced services to victims and help to ensure offender accountability.
- Domestic Violence Courts (DV): DV courts handle violation, misdemeanor and/or felony offenses as authorized in Criminal Procedure Law, Article 10, which involve persons currently or formerly involved in an intimate relationship, including same-gender couples; legally married to one another; formerly married to one another; couples with a child in common regardless of whether such persons have been married or have lived together at any time; and related by consanguinity or affinity. These Courts primarily address the underlying issues around domestic violence and seek to confront and remedy those issues.
- Drug Treatment Courts: What distinguishes drug courts is their unique approach to treatment: upon voluntary entry into court-supervised programs, appropriate non-violent addicted offenders become part of a dramatic intervention process. This process involves coordination between defense attorneys, prosecutors, treatment and education providers and law enforcement officials. Rules of participation are defined clearly in a contract agreed upon by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, the district attorney and the court.
- Mental Health Courts: New York State’s Mental Health Courts handle criminal cases involving defendants with mental illness. Mental Health Courts are dedicated to improving public safety, court operations and the well-being of people with mental illness. These courts feature: a dedicated judge; specially trained staff; resource coordination; and collaboration with technical assistance. The Mental Health Court initiative aims to provide offenders with mental illness the support and structure they need in order to avoid further criminal behavior. Mental Health Courts facilitate access to services, provide intensive judicial monitoring and promote collaboration between the court, community stakeholders, local mental health departments, mental health service providers and social service providers.
- Sex Offense Courts (SO): Many organizations come into contact with alleged and convicted sex offenders and victims of sex offenses, including district attorney’s offices, departments of probation, defense attorneys, and victim services agencies. Sex Offense Court judges and staff coordinate with these groups to ensure a uniform approach to management of sex offense cases and to promote the development and use of best practices.