The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has issued a census of problem-solving courts around the nation, using data from 2012. Problem-solving courts are a relatively recent innovation, created to address underlying problems that result in criminal behavior, BJS says. The courts typically are diversionary, meaning that a participant agrees to follow court guidelines to avoid prosecution, incarceration, or other typical criminal justice outcomes. The problem-solving court concept has been extended to civil and family court and to address the needs of certain populations, such as justice-involved veterans.
As of 2012, BJS counted 1,330 drug courts, 337 mental health courts, 261 problem-solving family courts, 244 youth courts, 183 DWI courts, 170 domestic violence courts, and 133 veterans courts. About two-thirds of problem-solving courts accepted cases after the defendant entered a guilty plea. More than half did not accept applicants with a history of violent crime, and nearly two-thirds did not accept applicants with a sex offense record. Participants in problem-solving courts spent a median of one year in the program. Overall, 92 percent of participants completed problem-solving court programs successfully.