Problem Solving Justice

Over the past fifteen years, more than a thousand "drug courts" have been created in states across the country, in response to an epidemic of drug-related crime and dissatisfaction with the perception of "revolving door" justice. At the same time, a number of other "problem solving" tribunals like domestic violence courts, community courts, gun courts, sex offender courts and mental health courts have been established. These courts, which represent self conscious attempts by the judiciary and the other members of the criminal justice system, raise a number of provocative issues. Does a problem solving approach jeopardize the integrity of the courts and our adversarial system of adjudication? Does it compromise constitutional protections? Do these courts achieve the goals of the court and a criminal justice systems. This course follows the history of problem solving or therapeutic jurisprudence reform, to discuss how these courts fit within the legal tradition and to analyze the role that the courts and criminal justice system can and should play in addressing social issues like drug addiction, domestic violence and mental illness. The course will include visits to both traditional and problem solving courts and guest experts.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
Letter grade with pass/fail option. Grading based upon two papers and a debate interview of a formerly incarcerated individual re entering the community and class participation.