On July 1, 2010, PL 108-2010 (HB 1271-2010) goes into effect. It repeals statutes creating drug courts and re-entry courts in favor of “problem solving” courts by which the General Assembly means:
“a court providing a process for immediate and highly structured judicial intervention for eligible individuals that incorporates the following problem solving concepts:
(1) Enhanced information to improve decision making.
(2) Engaging the community to assist with problem solving.
(3) Collaboration with social service providers and other stakeholders.
(4) Linking participants with community services based on risk and needs.
(5) Participant accountability.
(6) Evaluating the effectiveness of operations continuously.”
Various types of problem solving courts are community court, domestic violence court, drug court, family dependency drug court, mental health court, reentry court, veteran’s court, or other problem solving court certified by the Indiana Judicial Center. (One incidental effect of this legislation that occurs to me by virtue of my previous blog post is that it might expand the universe of “court-related” activities for mandate purposes.) Existing drug or reentry courts are grandfathered in, required to be certified as problem solving courts by the Indiana Judicial Center.
The general idea of problem solving courts, as I understand it, is that traditional forms of punishment are not terribly effective in preventing future crime. In the standard model of crime and punishment, someone convicted of a drug offense goes to jail and is basically told “don’t do it again.” They aren’t monitored very closely during the probation period and, all too often, they do it again; eventually get caught; goes back to jail; and is told “don’t do it again.” Rinse. Repeat. A problem solving court expands the tool box available to judges. Maybe the offender doesn’t have to do so much in the way of jail time, but the offender is monitored closely and has a lot more interaction with the court, coming back maybe every week to report, get tested, whatever. The highly structured rehabilitation efforts yield better results than just warehousing the person for a while before sending them back on the streets to do it again.