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Specialized Courts

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Specialized Courts

Clark County District Court has developed five specialized problem-solving courts that utilize therapeutic jurisprudence, preventive law, and restorative justice to assure the safety of victims and hold the offender accountable. Restorative justice is one of the good problem-solving approaches that are being developed in the court and legal reform movement. It focuses on restoring the victim using a variety of approaches. Restorative justice cannot be defined by examples because it is a general framework for viewing crime and its aftermath. It is not any particular program or technique. Restorative justice can be compared to the traditional system as follows: the traditional system asks three questions: who is the perpetrator; what law was violated; and how do we punish that person? Restorative justice, on the other hand, asks a different set of questions: first and foremost, what is the harm that has been caused; secondly, how do we fix that harm; and third, who is responsible for that repair? When the restorative justice questions are asked, a very different focus for justice seeking is arrived at. You become future oriented and you look to the people most affected by the wrong. If you ask what has happened to those people you often find that their basic trust has been undermined, they also feel powerless and violated. When we employ restorative justice we are attempting to empower people to take back control of their lives, their neighborhoods and their property.

The five specialized courts differ from a regular court in three fundamental respects. First, the cases are heard on a separate calendar and are all handled by the same core team of professionals. Second, there is an increased emphasis on linking the criminal justice system, treatment and community services. Third, the participants in the specialized court programs are monitored using risk management techniques and receive increased court supervision to increase public safety.

The Clark County Specialized Court programs have received national recognition as outstanding pioneering programs. They have been recognized at five international conferences, in the publications of the State Justice Institute and the National Center for State Courts as well as in the academic writings of Bruce Winick, David Wexler and others.

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Clark County Domestic Violence Court

The Clark County Domestic Violence Court breaks the cycle of domestic violence and holds the perpetrator accountable.

Clark County Domestic Violence Therapeutic Court
Clark County’s Domestic Violence Therapeutic Court (DVTC) uses the drug court/problem-solving court approach that specifically aims to address the challenging problems of drug addiction/alcoholism and domestic violence that clog court dockets every day. With a strong emphasis on judicial oversight and a comprehensive treatment and probation team approach, this court works towards increasing safety of victims and the community, rehabilitation of its participants and holding the offender accountable for their behaviors.  Over the course of 15 months, our DVTC program addresses the Chemical Dependency/Domestic Violence connection often found in conflicted and violent relationships. Asking individuals to remain clean and sober increases learning capabilities and retention of information learned.

Clark County Mental Health Court

The Clark County Mental Health Court improves public safety and avoids unnecessary recycling of individuals with significant mental illness through the justice system. It accomplishes this by applying a rigorous risk management program while diverting mentally ill offenders into a structured treatment program.

Clark County Substance Abuse Court

The Clark County Substance Abuse Court is a hybrid Drug/DUI Court that is designed to protect public safety, reduce recidivism and impaired driving and treating the underlying substance abuse problem through an intensive court-supervised treatment intervention.

Clark County Homeless Court

The Clark County Homeless Court provides an avenue for homeless misdemeanant offenders to find a resolution to their legal obligation towards the larger goal of self sufficiency.

Clark County Veterans Therapeutic Court
The Veterans Therapeutic Court is an alternative treatment and sentencing option for veteran defendants suffering from an underlying substance abuse and/or co-occurring mental illness and facing misdemeanor criminal charges. Veterans are identified early through specialized screening tools and must voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan developed by a team of court staff, probation and law enforcement officers, veteran peer mentors, veteran resource professionals, and treatment professionals. The program is a minimum of one year in length. Because each branch of the military has its own culture, its own language, code of conduct, rules, regulations, norms, ranks, stories, legends, rituals and rites, we feel we are justified in creating a separate specialized court docket dedicated solely to address the specific needs of our service men and women and forge a stronger relationship with the VA.  Another component of the program is pairing a veteran mentor with a veteran court participant to provide additional support and camaraderie through the program.

Started by the assistance of a 3-year Bureau of Justice Assistance federal grant, the Veterans Therapeutic Court launched March 2011.

 

Therapeutic Specialty Courts - 2009 Year End Summary (PDF)
Therapeutic Specialty Courts - 2010 Year End Summary (PDF)

 

 

For more information about any of the Therapeutic Specialty Courts, please contact Shauna McCloskey, 360-397-2431 or shauna.mccloskey@clark.wa.gov

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Clark County District Court Administrator: Rafaela Selga
Address: 1200 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
Phone: (360) 397-2424
Email: distct@clark.wa.gov

Responsible Elected Official: Vernon L. Schreiber, Presiding Judge

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