scales of justice

Problem-Solving Courts in Alabama and Their Potential Role in the Alleviation of Poverty

William Breland

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Problem-solving courts offer state and municipal judiciaries an invaluable opportunity to leverage the power of the law and social policy in the name of aiding vulnerable populations.  Alabama, in particular, suffers from extreme prison overcrowding and high rates of poverty. Therefore, programs that seek to divert defendants away from prisons, treat substance abuse, address mental illness, and connect vulnerable populations with needed social services are laudable. However, criticisms of the implementation of these specialized courts have been warranted.  In order to be effective and just, these courts must be accessible, affordable, lenient, compassionate, and ultimately supported by judges and policymakers.  Though work is yet to be done, reforming traditional notions of criminal justice in Alabama must be embraced.

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