Problem-Solving Courts (PSC), also known as Specialty Courts or Rehabilitative Courts, are aimed at reducing crime and increasing public safety by providing appropriate individualized treatment and resources for substance abuse, mental illness or other issues underlying the person’s involvement with the criminal justice system. These courts are an alternative to the standard prosecution of a criminal case. The process involves a non-adversarial team consisting of the judge, prosecutor, public defender, case manager, treatment provider and probation officer working together toward the goal of the participant’s recovery. Successful completion of these court programs results in the dismissal of the charges and the opportunity to expunge the charges from a participant’s record.
There are PSCs throughout Cook County. Drug Treatment Court, Mental Health Court and Veteran’s Treatment Court are located at the George N Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, as well as in each of the suburban districts (District 2, Skokie; District 3, Rolling Meadows; District 4, Maywood; District 5, Bridgeview and District 6, Markham).
Each PSC has a designated assistant public defender trained on the topics that are essential to the implementation and operation of a PSC. Topics may include but are not limited to, evidence-based screening, assessment and screening practices, target population, substance use disorder, mental illness, disability, co-occurring disorders, trauma, confidentiality, criminogenic risks and needs, incentives and sanctions, court processes, limited English proficiency and team dynamics.
Participating in a PSC entitles a person to the same constitutional rights as in a traditional criminal court. In addition to protecting a person’s constitutional rights, a PSC assistant public defender will also provide information as to the benefits of a PSC, explain the confidentiality consequences of entering a PSC, review the program requirements and possible outcomes, ensure compliance with treatment and work as a full partner to ensure success in the program.