"Problem-solving" courts — only a small percentage of the national total — have become increasingly effective due to their ability to rehabilitate low-level offenders (mostly drug offenders) while saving taxpayer money by eschewing traditional incarceration methods.
The only problem, it seems, is that the public seems largely unaware of the success of these courts — although readers of Miller-McCune may remember Bernice Yeung's article in our August 2008 issue on the Center for Court Innovation.
"You can continue to cycle these people and do nothing with them, or you can try to do something with them that's meaningful," the center's executive director, Greg Berman, said at the time "To ignore these people with individual problems and say, 'Courts shouldn't be doing this,' I would argue that that's inhumane and passing the buck."
The Drucker Institute, a think tank that sponsors and promotes ethical leadership throughout the country, must agree — it just awarded the center its 2009 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation, plus a check for $100,000.
The center is instrumental in furthering court reform in the greater New York area. The nonprofit, a recipient of numerous awards dating back to 1994, has also received a grant from the Federal Second Chance Act to support rehabilitation work with Harlem parolees.
Perhaps increased awareness (beyond just San Francisco and New York), and maybe a few more awards, will pave the way for taxpayers to open their wallets and support the fledgling rehabilitation system.