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“Introduction: Problem-Solving Courts” by Jeffery Butts Essay

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Updated: Apr 5th, 2022

The article offers an overall discussion on the emergence and rapid growth of problem-solving courts in the United States. According to the author, the problem-solving courts richly supplement the function of the formal justice system in the United States. It is also interesting to mention that this type of court system is becoming popular across the globe. For instance, Great Britain and Australia are already embracing the ideology behind problem-solving courts.

Although this category of courts is growing in terms of functionality, drug courts are apparently the most common type. Other varieties include community-based courts, domestic violence courts, and mental health courts. To a large extent, problem-solving courts are currently active referees to cases emanating from interpersonal disputes and neighborhood conflicts. The new problem-solving courts play some of the roles that used to be executed by the conventional civil or criminal courts.

The article addresses one main hypothesis that states “people should be accountable for their harmful behavior, but the justice system should do more than simply punish them for that harm; it should prevent future harm” (Butts 121). From this hypothesis, it is evident that problem-solving courts execute their functions on the premise of correcting the behaviors of purported offenders instead of inflicting injuries. These courts do not merely rely on the fact-finding mission as is the case with the conventional courts. They operate like the “juvenile courts for adults” (Butts 121).

The article also attempts to brainstorm a number of research questions. These include the definition of problem-solving courts, the origin of the idea behind such courts and the existing types, issues addressed by these courts, and how they process cases at hand. Besides, the author poses the question of whether problem-solving courts are cost-effective.

The author reviews the existing information on problem-solving courts. The latter is the main study design or strategy used to present data in the article. The literature review offers a glimpse preview of the development of problem-solving courts, their growth trends, basic functions, and the anticipated future features of the court. Second, the author assumes the role of an observer in order to report both the past and present literature on the development of problem-solving courts. Such a strategy assists the author to take an objective position while reporting findings from other studies. For example, Butt explains how the longitudinal evaluation of problem-solving courts in the US made it possible to examine the operation of a drugs court. Some of the issues explored in this study included the impact of the federal court orders and administrative policies of the drug courts.

A number of other strategies can also be employed in the study of problem-solving courts in the United States and across the globe. For example, an ethnographic study approach is quite effective in researching human topics of this nature. In this case, prospective customers are assumed to be the lawbreakers in society who are presented to problem-solving courts. The lawbreakers or wrongdoers presented before such courts should be in a position to understand that their actions should never be reported. They ought to clearly comprehend that society expects them to contribute positively towards socio-economic and political development.

The article is predominantly a qualitative research study because it offers a theoretical overview of research findings of problem-solving courts. There are no direct surveys or empirical evidence carried out by the author to substantiate the claims noted in the article. In any case, the author completely relies on secondary sources of information to disseminate the intended message. The author uses an explanatory approach to compile the article. Therefore, the study is entirely qualitative in nature.

The article is primarily an introductory section to a literature review that is yet to be conducted by selected members of a review panel. Hence, it can be argued that one of the strengths of the article is a strong and compelling introductory note to a research study on problem-solving courts. Mentions of pertinent issues are present throughout the article. A brief section that resembles an abstract of the research study on the first page of the article is yet another desired attribute of the study. The latter offers a quick preview of the issues discussed in the study.

Nonetheless, the lack of the title ‘abstract’ is not proper for a research article of this magnitude. Keywords are also missing at the end of the abstract. Second, the author points out several research questions but fails to point out a dominant research question that the research study seeks to explore. There is also no clear distinction between the hypothesis and problem statement projected in the article.

The research study can be improved by incorporating surveys or empirical studies on problem-solving courts in the United States. Besides, it is necessary to correct the weaknesses identified above. For example, problem statements, hypotheses, and the main research question should come out clearly. Finally, the academic credentials of the review panel should be preferably indicated at the end of the article.

Works Cited

Butts, Jeffery. “Introduction: Problem solving courts”. Law & Policy 23.2 (2001): 121-124. Print.

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