Have Problem-Solving Courts Changed the Practice of Law? Academic Article uri icon


  • Thirty years after the start of the first drug court, it is a good time to examine what the problem-solving court movement has contributed to our criminal legal system overall. It is also a good time to ask what it would look like if these courts had made "monumental change" in our criminal legal system. This article will start with a discussion of mass incarceration and offer some reasons why problem-solving courts did not prevent, or lessen, mass incarceration. Next this article will discuss how problem-solving courts work, including by looking at the roles of the professionals, the judges and lawyers, within these courts. This article will then consider the impact, or lack of impact that these courts have had on how the larger criminal legal system works. Finally, this article will suggest five key things that problem-solving courts do that would result in "monumental change" if more widely adopted in the rest of our criminal courts.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Conflict Resolution

author list (cited authors)

  • Alkon, C

complete list of authors

  • Alkon, Cynthia

publication date

  • March 2020