Reentry court judges: the key to the court

Christopher Salvatore, Venezia Michalsen, Caitlin Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last few decades, treatment-oriented court judges have moved away from being neutral arbitrators in an adversarial court process to treatment facilitators. In the problem-solving court model, judges are part of a more therapeutic treatment process with program participants and a courtroom work group. The shift from the use of the traditional criminal justice process toward the use of more treatment-oriented models for some populations highlights the need to systematically document key elements of treatment court models. In particular, it is important to clearly document the role of Reentry Court Judges because they are a key component of the Reentry Court model. The current study used interviews with members of the courtroom work group, as well as a focus group interview of former participants in the program, to help identify the role of the judge and activities the judge engages. Findings revealed that the judges played a supportive, informal role, balanced with a more formal, authoritarian role, and the judges engaged participants in pre-court meetings, as well as courtroom sessions. Further, the judges facilitated interactions with program participants outside the courtroom, demonstrating that the judge is a core component of success for participants in Reentry Court.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-222
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 18 May 2020


  • judges
  • probationers
  • reentry
  • reintegration
  • treatment


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