Solution-Focused Court Programs for Mentally Impaired Offenders: What Works?
Edgely, M. (2013) "Solution-focused court programs for mentally impaired offenders: What works?" 22 Journal of Judicial Administration, 207
18 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014 Last revised: 20 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2013
Solution-focused courts for mentally impaired offenders have proliferated in the United States and Australia. A growing body of research shows that these courts can indeed succeed in reducing recidivism among mentally impaired offenders, at least in the short term. But the evaluative research does not reveal which elements of solution-focused courts are responsible for achieving that effect. This article discusses the research into “what works” with mentally impaired offenders in the solution-focused context. It is argued that, with growing pressure on resources and the move to mainstream solution-focused approaches in courts, it is important to understand which features are efficacious, so that evidence-based practices can be implemented. Various aspects of solution-focused programs are examined, including the efficacy of competing rehabilitative models, voluntary participation by offenders (as leveraged by the prospect of a reduced sentence), the role of the judicial officer, rewards and sanctions, multidisciplinary collaboration, and the provision of services. Finally, this article considers which mentally impaired offenders are most likely to benefit from a solution-focused approach.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, problem-solving courts, mental health courts, solution-focused courts, rehabilitation, mentally impaired offenders, what works
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