The Bar News

Illinois Supreme Court Approves Updates to Problem-Solving Courts Standards

The Supreme Court of Illinois and the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee of Justice and Mental Health Planning (Advisory Committee) today have announced updates to the Problem-Solving Courts (PSC) Standards and certification and application processes, which were adopted in 2015.

Revisions were drafted by the Advisory Committee in conjunction with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) and approved by the Supreme Court during its November term. They will become effective on Jan. 1, 2020, and are intended to further promote consistency and compliance across the entire criminal justice system with up-to-date evidence-based practices.

Revisions to the PSC Standards include but are not limited to updated definitions, a requirement for Supreme Court certification for PSC prior to beginning operations, a re-certification process, and expansions of the scope and types of treatment and interventions required.

To help foster collaboration, PSC team members will now be required to attend court hearings and participate when appropriate. Their presence can facilitate information sharing, underscore the importance of follow-through suggested by the court, and reinforce to participants that their efforts are supported by an entire team.

The section of the standards that addresses treatment, case management, and supervision has been significantly enhanced. The revisions ensure that each participant receives a case plan and a clinical treatment plan that are developed collaboratively with the probation officer and treatment provider and include targeted interventions to address criminogenic and clinical needs.

PSC will also be required to support and encourage use of United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Medication Assisted Treatment resources and adopt policies that adhere to the FDA’s requirements.

Also included is a provision for issuing sanctions in cases where the participant has failed to comply with the terms of the PSC program. The provision contemplates that jail sentences may be imposed but only after less severe consequences have been attempted. Jail sentences must be of a definite term, typically of short duration, but there is no limitation on a PSC judge's authority to impose the sanction other than that it be dispensed "judiciously and sparingly" after a hearing.

The revised standards, as well as documents for the application, certification, and re-certification process, can be found on the Supreme Court’s website at www.illinoiscourts.gov under the Problem-Solving Courts section in the ‘Information’ Tab. 

Posted on December 4, 2019 by Rhys Saunders
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