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Problem-solving courts are designed to serve individuals who have a particular problem that underlies their criminal behavior (e.g., substance dependence or mental illness), have committed a certain type of offense (such as domestic violence), or have committed an offense that is detrimental to a community’s quality of life. Whereas the traditional court process is adversarial—the court serves as a forum where the prosecution and defense spar over the facts of a case—problem-solving courts employ a non-adversarial approach to decision making. In contrast to the emphasis of traditional courts on case processing—speeding cases through the system and efficiently meting out penalties—problem-solving courts focus on outcomes, aiming to ameliorate the problems on which they focus.

Problem-solving courts emphasize addressing the underlying issues that bring individual offenders into contact ...

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