Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Expanding Therapeutic Jurisprudence Across the Federal Judiciary

A patchwork of drug courts and other problem-solving courts currently exists to divert individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system. We call for a broader implementation of problem-solving courts, particularly at the federal level, that would operate according to the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence (i.e., a framework that aims to maximize the health benefits of judicial and legislative policies and practices). Expanding federal problem-solving courts will better serve individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders in the federal criminal justice system and allow them to benefit from rehabilitation and diversion programs. This effort will also signal that the federal judiciary has recognized the criminal justice system’s failure to address inmate mental health care, and that it is willing to institute changes to provide appropriate, evidence-based interventions.