Saturday, January 9, 2016 in New York


For those of you who are in New York to attend the AALS Annual Meeting, the ADR Section, along with the Law and Mental Disability Section will have a panel discussion on “The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement: Taking Stock After 25 Years.”  The panel is from 9am-noon on Saturday, January 9 in the Riverside Ballroom of the Sheraton Times Square.  We have a great group of speakers and I will have the pleasure of moderating the session.  The full description and list of speakers is:

Drug courts, mental health courts, veterans courts, and other problem solving courts have grown quickly around the United States since the first drug court began in Dade County, Florida, in 1989. These courts are premised on the idea that the criminal justice system should address the problems that cause criminal behavior such as drug addiction and mental illness and that by doing so recidivism will decrease. Critics complain that the growth of these courts may prevent more serious discussions about the role of the criminal justice system in, for example, drug addiction. In an era of mass incarceration, problem solving courts have been heralded as a way to decrease prison populations by using non-incarceration alternatives. Proponents also point to the lower cost of non-incarceration alternatives. Critics question whether problem solving courts can have such a far-reaching impact as these types of courts require more resources and regularly suffer from waitlists and the inability to accept all those who might qualify. In addition, many of these courts are structured so that participants must plead guilty to the underlying offense before being accepted. This means that they are not saved the serious collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.

This panel would discuss the theory behind problem solving courts, the growth of these courts, the public policy goals served by problem solving courts, and the concern of critics.


Richard Boldt, Professor of Law,
University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law

Erin Collins, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering
New York University Law School

Carol Fisler
Director of Mental Health Court and Alternative to Detention Programs
Center for Court Innovation

Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Associate Professor of Law
University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law

E. Lea Johnston, Associate Professor of Law
University of Florida, Levin College of Law

Mae C. Quinn, Professor of Law; Director; Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic
Washington University School of Law

Jane Spinak, Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law
Columbia Law School


Cynthia Alkon, Associate Professor of Law
Texas A&M University School of Law


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Cynthia Alkon
Cynthia Alkon is an Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Prior to joining academia, she was a criminal defense lawyer and worked in rule of law development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia focusing on criminal justice reform issues. She is a contributor of ADR Prof Blog.

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