The scope of criminal court research and evaluation has grown with the advent of specialized or problem-solving courts. Examples of specialized courts include drug courts, domestic violence courts, reentry courts, and veterans treatment courts.
Number and Types of Specialized Courts
(As of June 2015)
|Type of Court||Number|
|Mental Health Courts ||427|
|Truancy Courts ||267|
|Domestic Violence Courts ||176 |
|Other Problem Solving Courts ||168|
|Child Support Courts ||68|
|Community Courts ||57|
|Federal Reentry Courts ||44|
|Reentry Courts ||33|
|Prostitution Courts ||30|
|Homelessness Courts ||22|
|Sex Offender Courts ||8|
|Parole Violation Courts ||6|
|Gun Courts ||2|
|Federal Problem Solving Courts ||2|
The Specialized or Problem-Solving Court Model
Specialized courts differ from traditional courts in that they focus on one type of offense or offender.
An interdisciplinary team, led by a judge (or parole authority), works collaboratively to achieve two goals:
Case management to expedite case processing and reduce caseload and time to disposition, thus increasing trial capacity for more serious crimes.
Therapeutic jurisprudence to reduce
criminal offending through therapeutic and interdisciplinary approaches that address addiction and other underlying issues without jeopardizing public safety and due process.
The most common specialized courts are drug courts, but several other types of programs apply similar approaches to address violent and repeat offending, and returns to incarceration. [Note: Repeat offending is often referred to as
"recidivism" in criminal justice research.]
Learn more about:
Other NIJ projects in this area include:
- NIJ’s Multisite Evaluation of Veterans Treatment Courts that examines models (mentoring), processes (participant needs and services), recidivism, and other outcomes. Read the article "Identifying Those Who Served: Modeling Potential Participant Identification in Veterans Treatment Courts," in the inaugural issue of
Drug Court Review, published by the National Drug Court Resource Center.
- NIJ’s completed
Evaluation of Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts that examines program processes, impacts, and costs.
- Past evaluations of two community court programs, see A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, (Executive Summary) (pdf, 13 pages), and Dispensing Justice Locally: The Impact, Costs, and Benefits of the Midtown Community Court (pdf, 361 pages).
[note 1] Counts and map of drug court programs provided by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
Date Modified: May 30, 2018