Special Courts






Special courts have limited jurisdiction that deals explicitly with disputes that cause criminal behaviour. The court sessions offer an intensive program for people that may suffer from health issues to help the person dealing with such a problem. The courts are meant to serve a specific targeted population and require a lot of collaboration among different stakeholders to ensure that the courts can adhere to best practices in the field. Individuals charged with a non-violent felony or any misdemeanour offences and eligible for probation are attended at the special courts (Marlowe et al.,2016). The judge is the lead staff of the court, with the defence attorney, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and treatment providers being incorporated to help the party. They operate under the administrative office of the courts that pays for the drug testing, treatment and case management with the participants incurring no costs.

Drug courts have been evidenced to reduce the rate of drug use and to reduce criminal behaviour. The participants of those courts chose to complete the designated program instead of alternatively spending time in jail. Participants who attend such courts have been more likely to lead productive lives and meet their obligations because of the intervention programs that employed. Individuals deemed eligible to receive assistance from the drug court have been charged with a drug-related crime and are non-violent with their p main problem stemming from substance abuse, which is considered a disorder (Marlowe et al.,2016). The participant is also required to participate in mental health sessions and undergo frequent urine screening and self-help groups. The drug courts were implemented in 1996 and have so far been able to combine a vital component of treatment with the program offering a less expensive alternative to incarceration and reducing the overcrowding in prisons.

Over time there has been increased usage of special courts, with the current rate standing at approximately 3000 courts (National Institute of Justice,2018). The drug courts were followed by establishing mental illness courts to deal with offenders who suffer from mental health issues. Therefore, the courts have over time proved as practical tools in the rehabilitation and treatment of offenders, significantly reducing the recidivism rate and at the same time ensuring that such persons do not go to jail but instead get the necessary intervention needed to ensure that they can be able to get reintegrated back into the society after attending such programs to deal with their issues.

The aim of coming up with such courts was to ensure that an effort is made towards addressing specific criminogenic problems (Long &Sullivan,2017). Therefore, the courts should be enforced worldwide as they are effective in dealing with those that commit crime because of underlying disorders. By ensuring g that intervention measures such as enrollment in programs are affected, it becomes easier to ensure that they get the necessary help to reduce crime levels. The courts have received criticism for focusing on the therapeutic approach as opposed to= being focused on treatment (Marlowe et al.,2016). The implementation is necessary to ensure that such courts, when implemented on a large scale in other parts, are more centred on treatment philosophy instead of solely focusing on the punitive aspect of the criminal justice system.


Therefore, the specialised courts serve a vital interest in the criminal justice system as they enable the movement of offenders in the system faster, reducing the overpopulation of prisons. The focus on punishment in the criminal justice system should be refocused to ensure instead that the criminals get the appropriate intervention measures to reduce the rate of recidivism and enhance community safety at the same time.


Long, J., & Sullivan, C. J. (2017). Learning more from evaluation of justice interventions: Further consideration of theoretical mechanisms in juvenile drug courts. Crime & Delinquency, 63, 1091–1115. doi:10.1177/0011128716629757. 

Marlowe, D. B., Hardin, C. D., & Fox, C. L. (2016). Painting the current picture: A national report on drug courts and other problem-solving courts in the United States. Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute. [

National Institute of Justice. (2018). Drug courts. Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs.

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