QUALITY OF LIFE: ASSESSING THE MULTI-FACETED WORLD OF COMMUNITY COURT
Holbrook, Mia Abboud
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The rise of problem-solving courts in the American criminal justice system has paved a way for a collaborative, rehabilitative approach to addressing crime. Community courts have since emerged as a criminal justice response to enhance quality of life. By definition, a community court embraces a holistic approach by tending to the participant from all aspects of their life. This includes the collaboration of criminal justice actors, such as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law enforcement, with outside entities such as mental health professionals, social service providers, and community organizations. The process of community court embodies a very different approach from the traditional court system. While there are many successful aspects to community courts, research has shown a lack of focus on recidivism reductions within community court participants, as well as the use of inconsistent study methodology. This research examines the importance, efficacy, and impact of community courts through a program evaluation and gap analysis of an established community court. This research also addresses the key issues that are often the sources for the lack of community court research. This study found that when implemented correctly, the community court displays model adherence to the recommended community court principals as well as the policies and procedures as outline in the manual. Promising results were discovered, including the creation of a service provider room, the utilization of a validated risk and needs assessment tool, and the collaboration present between the community court team and the social service and treatment providers. The community court also displayed an of the needs of its participants with the service provider offerings they currently provide. Some challenges were also noted, including negative preliminary findings. Challenges found include a need for improved data collection procedures, an enhancement in ensuring that participants understand the program structure and continue to follow-up with case plan, and the development of a way to track and follow-up with community court participants. These findings offer an important look into the community court model and open the door for future research.