Problem-solving Criminal Justice Initiative
We can all agree that an important goal of the American criminal justice system is rehabilitation. It expects that most, if not all, offenders to learn from his or her wrongdoing and become productive members of society (Ballenstedt, 2008). It is this thinking at the heart of a community-based initiative that is designed to bring law enforcement officials together to form a single concerted effort to identify and address patterns of crime, mitigate the underlying conditions that fuel crime, and engage the community as an active partner (Wolf, Prinicples of Problem-Solving Justice, 2007).
It was this effort that identified the problem as failures of the judicial process. These failures included sluggish courts, increased levels of recidivism, and a significant loss of public trust (Ballenstedt, 2008). To solve the problem, the program takes a multifaceted approach to punishment in non-violent cases. Through the program, justices have more options available to them when sentencing such offenses as drug possession, prostitution, or even shoplifting. The concept combines social services with punishment in order to reduce reliance on expensive and ineffective short-term jail sentences for non-violent offenders and boost the community’s confidence in the system (Ballenstedt, 2008).
This concept, however, is not new. Problem-solving justice programs can trace their roots to several innovations in policing including community and problem-oriented policing. This was the basis for replacing law enforcement’s traditional role of responding, identifying patterns of crime, mitigating the underlying conditions, and engaging the community (Wolf, Prinicples of Problem-Solving Justice, 2007). New policing strategies helped inspire similar approaches giving rise to innovations such as community prosecution, community courts, and problem-solving probation. At the heart of this innovative movement was the idea that it was no longer sufficient to just arrest, process, and adjudicate an offender. Rather it was necessary for law enforcement, prosecutors, probation officers, and the judiciary to attempt to reduce the rate of recidivism, improve public confidence in the system, and prevent crime down the road (Wolf, Prinicples of Problem-Solving Justice, 2007).
The opening of the Miami-Dade County Drug Court in 1989 was the catalyst that inspired other...