Many Shades of Success: Bottom-up Indicators of Individual Success in Community Courts

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This study challenges the conventional approach to the appropriate indicators of individual success in community courts (CCs) by exploring the different meanings that CC professionals ascribe to the term “success.” CCs conduct a non-adversarial process in which team members collaborate to provide a comprehensive rehabilitative intervention for recidivist participants. We conducted fifty-three in-depth interviews with CC personnel between 2016 and 2020. According to the interviewees, standard evaluation measures such as program completion, reduced recidivism, and systemic reduction of incarceration are necessary for evaluating these courts. Yet individual success is relative, subjective, multidimensional, and must be understood as a continuum. Therefore, it should also be measured by looking at significant processes of change that participants have undergone in various aspects of their lives. Study findings can be translated into measurable well-being indicators, moving the “what works” discourse forward to include more nuanced and diverse manifestations of success in studies evaluating specialized courts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-67
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Bar Foundation.


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