Wednesday, June 13, 2007
From philly.com: Across the nation, more judges embrace the concept of specialized courts, where the idea is to mix punishment with treatment in cases where criminal behavior is the result of addiction or mental-health problems.
Philadelphia - while perhaps better known for the old Eagles Court for unruly fans - has a range of special courts. There are a drug court, a truancy court, a treatment court for juveniles, a domestic-violence misdemeanor court, a "community court" for nuisance crimes, a gun court that emphasizes anger-management treatment, and, starting just last week, a DUI court. A mental-health court is being explored.
The region's counties also have begun to embrace the concept. Chester County has had a drug court since 1997, Delaware County is contemplating one, and Bucks County is mulling a hybrid court that would handle drug and DUI defendants and perhaps defendants with mental-health issues. Montgomery County's drug court began last year.
"Treatment courts are the rage now," said Bucks County Court Administrator Douglas R. Praul, adding that officials are still in the talking stage of how to proceed.
New Jersey has 24 drug courts, and there is a tax court. While there are landlord-tenant dockets in some places, and there has been talk about mental-health courts, the state has not otherwise embraced the idea of specialized courts. "We think it's a mistake to go into too much area of specialty," said courts spokeswoman Winnie Comfort, who added that the state shifted away from more fragmented courts after its 1947 re-examination of the judicial system. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]