Problem-Solving Courts
Justice for the Twenty-First Century?
by Paul Higgins, Mitchell B. Mackinem, ed.
May 2009, 199pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35284-3
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35285-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Thousands of adult and juvenile drug courts, domestic violence courts, mental health courts, DUI courts, and other specialized courts address behaviors not adequately handled by the traditional criminal justice system. These problem-solving courts operate with the intent of serving justice and safety through court-supervised management of individuals who break the law as a result of personal, psychological, and social problems.

The new trend in problem-solving courts—specialized courts utilized to address crimes not adequately addressed by the standard criminal justice system—is examined in this thorough and insight-filled book.

At least since the late 1980s, with the development of the first drug court in Dade County, Florida, the justice system has undergone what some believe is a revolution—the movement toward problem-solving courts. Problem-Solving Courts: Justice for the Twenty-First Century? provides a concise, thorough, well-documented, and balanced foundation for anyone interested in understanding this phenomenon.

Detailing the “promise and potential perils” of problem-solving courts, the authors represented here examine the development of the problem-solving court movement, the rationale for the courts, the approaches they take, and their anticipated benefits and potential pitfalls. Using case examples and looking at various types of problem-solving courts, the book offers “foundational” information about the specific types of problem-solving courts, their goals and philosophies, their organization and operation, their variation in structure and procedures, and the extensiveness of the court. It draws conclusions about the relative merits or disadvantages of such courts and considers prospects for the future.

Paul Higgins is professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. He has published more than a dozen books and monographs about deviance, disability, and sociology, including works about deaf communities, rehabilitation professionals, educating deaf and hearing students together, and thinking about deviance.

Mitchell B. Mackinem is assistant professor of sociology at Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC. He has worked as a frontline addictions counselor, planned and implemented a residential treatment program, and was founder and director of the Richland County Drug Court Programs, where he worked for 10 years. For several years, he has written a monthly column for drug treatment professionals in South Carolina.


"Editors Higgins (sociology, U. of South Carolina, Columbia) and Mackinem (sociology, Clafin U.) have collected essays on the development of specialized courts over the last two decades, with expert commentators examining the reasons for the movement, the rationale and approaches of these courts and the anticipated benefits and pitfalls of these alternatives. Case studies are used to illustrate how these courts have been created to deal with specific types of offenses such as drug abuse, DUIs, domestic violence and mental health, and how these venues differ from traditional courts and other conventional solutions. The flaws of each type of court system are also analyzed for the benefits of students and scholars in criminology and criminal justice."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2009

"The book supports the idea that there is cause to hope for these courts, if they can survive the current economic climate. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and undergraduate students."—Choice, February 1, 2010
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