Solving Problems for Pennsylvania's Problem-Solving Courts
The Pennsylvania Judiciary has launched a new statewide computer system that will record performance data in problem-solving courts.
The “Problem-Solving Adult and Juvenile Courts Information System,” or PAJCIS, will allow the commonwealth’s 95 problem-solving courts, which cover topics such as drugs, DUI, veterans and mental health, better manage and review program costs and efficiency.
Instead of jail time, those eligible to go through a problem-solving court will get their record expunged once certain goals, like community service time, are met. For example, a drug offender who goes through a problem-solving court would get treatment instead of incarceration, while completing their assigned goals under court supervision.
Art Heinz, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, said the PAJCIS will help the state court system better manage problem-solving court programs.
“We’ll be able to calculate fines, costs, restitution costs collected, and also to provide an evaluation of the community service hours that have been delivered and provide a dollar amount as to the value of that service that’s been delivered,” Heinz said.
He said problem-solving courts save taxpayers money by reducing jail time, make communities safer and curb repeat offenses. The PAJCIS can help the 67 Pennsylvania counties with problem-solving courts evaluate their programs’ impacts.
“The counties can make choices on how to tailor their programs regarding such things as how many people once they enter the program have improved their lives by obtaining high school equivalency diplomas, by how many defendants have gained employment, and are now current on child support matters and so forth,” Heinz said.
Heinz added the commonwealth has not collected that kind of information in “an organized fashion.” Counties have been inputting their data into PAJCIS since July 1.