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Home Courts By District 5th Judicial District 5th Judicial District's Problem Solving Courts
5th Judicial District's Problem Solving Courts


Problem-solving courts are innovative criminal justice programs that seek rehabilitation over incarceration. The goal is to treat the underlying issues that lead to criminal behaviors, which have proven resistant to conventional solutions. The foundation of problem-solving courts is close collaboration between agencies in a non-adversarial approach. The programs focus on accountability and responsibility by requiring frequent court appearances, random drug and alcohol testing, community supervision, and an individualized treatment plan along with other specific program requirements. The teams utilize timely incentives and sanctions to facilitate behavior change along with treatment responses. Problem-solving courts strive to stop the revolving-door of the justice system by treating underlying issues and therefore decreasing cost and recidivism. 



The first drug court was started in Dade County, Florida, in 1989. To address the problem of over-incarceration, the court began sentencing drug-addicted offenders to drug court versus jail or prison. This innovative justice model led to specialized courts across the country, including domestic violence and mental health courts. Today, there are over 3,000 problem-solving courts in the United States, as they have become one of the justice system’s most successful and resilient innovations.

The first drug court in Colorado began in Denver in 1994. As of June 2019, there were 74 problem-solving courts in operation in 20 judicial districts in the State of Colorado. The 5th Judicial District currently has four problem solving courts: Eagle County Recovery Court (adult drug court), Summit County Recovery Court (adult drug court), Lake County Sobriety Court (DUI), and Eagle County R.I.S.E. Court (DUI). 


Best Practice Standards

In order to ensure the 5th Judicial District's problem-solving courts operate efficiently and effectively for participants and the community, the following standards are set forth by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP).


I. Target Population
Eligibility and exclusion criteria for the Drug Court are predicated on empirical evidence indicating which types of offenders can be treated safely and effectively in Drug Courts. Candidates are evaluated for admission to the Drug Court using evidence-based assessment tools and procedures.


II. Historically Disadvantaged Groups
Citizens who have historically experienced sustained discrimination or reduced social opportunities because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, religion, or socioeconomic status receive the same opportunities as other citizens to participate and succeed in the Drug Court.


III. Roles and Responsibilities of the Judge
The Drug Court judge stays abreast of current law and research on best practices in Drug Courts, participates regularly in team meetings, interacts frequently and respectfully with participants, and gives due consideration to the input of other team members.


IV. Incentives, Sanctions, and Therapeutic Adjustments
Consequences for participants’ behavior are predictable, fair, consistent, and administered in accordance with evidence-based principles of effective behavior modification.


V. Substance Abuse Treatment
Participants receive substance abuse treatment based on a standardized assessment of their treatment needs. Substance abuse treatment is not provided to reward desired behaviors, punish infractions, or serve other non-clinically indicated goals. Treatment providers are trained and supervised to deliver a continuum of evidence-based interventions that are documented in treatment manuals.


VI. Complementary Treatment and Social Services

Participants receive complementary treatment and social services for conditions that co-occur with substance abuse and are likely to interfere with their compliance in Drug Court, increase criminal recidivism, or diminish treatment gains.


VII. Drug and Alcohol Testing

Drug and alcohol testing provide an accurate, timely, and comprehensive assessment of unauthorized substance use throughout participants’ enrollment in the Drug Court.


VIII. Multidisciplinary Team

A dedicated multidisciplinary team of professionals manages the day-to-day operations of the Drug Court, including reviewing participant progress during pre-court staff meetings and status hearings, contributing observations and recommendations within team members’ respective areas of expertise, and delivering or overseeing the delivery of legal, treatment and supervision services.


IX. Census and Caseloads

The Drug Court serves as many eligible individuals as practicable while maintaining continuous fidelity to best practice standards.


X. Monitoring and Evaluation

The Drug Court routinely monitors its adherence to best practice standards and employs scientifically valid and reliable procedures to evaluate its effectiveness.

Click on the links below for more information on the 5th Judicial District's problem solving courts:

Eagle County Recovery Court (adult drug court)

Summit County Recovery Court (adult drug court)

Lake County Sobriety Court (DUI)

Eagle County R.I.S.E. Court (DUI)


For more information on the 5th Judicial District's Problem Solving Courts, please contact:


Lisa Morton, 5th JD Problem Solving Court Coordinator: 

(719) 293-8111 (phone) 





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