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Solving the Problem of Problem-Solving Justice: Rebalancing Federal Court Investment in Reentry and Pretrial Diversion Programs

By Devin T. Driscoll. Full text here.

This Note explores the creation of so-called problem-solving courts, including state drug courts and federal reentry courts, as well as the future of this kind of reform within the federal criminal justice system. It traces the development of problem-solving courts, beginning first with state drug courts in the 1990s, then state-based reentry courts in the early 2000s, before reviewing reforms to the federal system in the same period and the creation of federal reentry courts in the late 2000s. It offers—for the first time anywhere—a synthesis of the development of both state and federal programs designed to address addiction-related recidivism, and classifies these two major categories of intervention as either ex ante or ex post. It then considers the challenges attendant to placing an ex-ante policy intervention—drug courts—in the ex-post policy context of criminal reentry. Finally, it calls for both the creation of federal drug courts—either under existing statutory authority or the inherent power of courts to create necessary procedural tools to manage their dockets—and for the further development of federal reentry courts, by institutionalizing the program in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and investing in further research and development for program development.