Social psychology and problem-solving courts: Judicial roles and decision making

Richard L. Wiener, Leah Georges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


For many who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse, and even for some who are perpetrators of family violence, the criminal justice system has become a dumping ground. After the courts adjudicate these offenders and they serve their punishments, they frequently recidivate and return to the criminal courts with new charges. This chapter describes problem-solving courts as an alternative to the criminal courts that address the revolving door problem. This chapter describes a legal decision-making model that explains how offenders react to problem-solving courts and suggests ways to study both the theory and outcome of drug courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts, and veteran courts. The model discusses an alternative to the rational actor approach to punishment that problem-solving courts endorse and describes the roles of anticipated emotion, motivation, and perceptions of procedural justice in understanding the reactions of offenders in these courts. This chapter ends with a taxonomy of problem-solving courts, which focuses on the role of the judge as a facilitator versus arbitrator and the type of legal decision-making model that the courts assume (psychological model versus and economic model). The first dimensions examines the different approaches that judges take in criminal and problem-solving courts and the second compares a psychological model of judgment to a utility maximization approach to decision-making theory. This chapter ends with an analysis of the different types of courts that occupy different locations in the four quadrants of the taxonomy and spells out implications for the consumers in these different institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProblem Solving Courts
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Science and Legal Perspectives
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781461474036
ISBN (Print)1461474027, 9781461474029
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticipated emotions
  • Legal decision-making model
  • Procedural justice
  • Rational actor model
  • Regulatory focus
  • Revolving door
  • Taxonomy of problem-solving courts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Social psychology and problem-solving courts: Judicial roles and decision making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this