Specialty Courts

Specialty courts handle cases where the defendant suffers from an underlying problem and will benefit from services directed toward solving that problem. Since the establishment of the first drug court in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Fla., the number and types of specialty treatment courts have grown dramatically. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals report that there are more than 2,000 drug courts in existence. In addition, there are nearly 1,000 specialty treatment courts including mental health, domestic violence, community and re-entry courts. While these courts vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in how they are set up, there are two constants: they seek to address an underlying problem that led to the person’s involvement in the criminal justice system, and there is a judge at the center of the problem-solving effort.