My first job after law school was in Pulaski County, Arkansas, as a special assistant prosecuting attorney in a problem-solving court that saw mental health and substance misuse clients who were a danger to themselves or others. At the time, I had never heard of a problem-solving court and was surprised by how the judge ran the court. It wasn’t like anything I’d seen on Law & Order. And yes, unfortunately, that was my only reference to an operating court after graduating from law school. The judge, Mary Spencer McGowan, ran a tight docket and was a no-nonsense judge, but she taught me more about humanity in the justice system, second chances, and procedural fairness than any other influence in my career. Continue reading “The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts”
I am tasked with surveying women who are participants in a family treatment court. The survey questionnaire is lengthy and may seem daunting in paper form, so I’ve been instructed to administer it in person. I handwrite the answers during hour and a half long interviews. Sometimes the interviews last even longer, depending upon the emotional state of the participant. Aside from reading reports on emerging problem-solving courts, this is my first experience inside a family treatment court. It is 1999, and I am working as a research associate for a study on Manhattan Family Treatment Courts while attending graduate school at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.