Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Specialized Courts

There seems to be a move to focus parts of the criminal court system onto specific issues, in order to prevent a more holistic answer than repeated jail sentences. Drug Court is one such example, where nonviolent offenders can stay out of jail and receive treatment for addictions. There has also been talk locally of a Mental Health Court, a similar model where the cause of problems (often overlapping with addiction) is mental illness. Amherst, near Buffalo, also has a Gambling Court.

Today's NY Times has a good story on a "quality of life" court in Brooklyn. This model seems to have several benefits over the traditional specialized court. For one, it sorts out minor offenses and reduces the docket load in traditional criminal court. As well, this court has more time to devote to the minor offenses, instead of loud stereos being blown off while the court takes a break from arraigning murderers and theives. The informality as described by the Times also seems more conducive to reaching defendants.


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