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Massachusetts Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts launches website

UMass Medical School Communications

December 01, 2015

The Massachusetts Trial Court, in partnership with UMass Medical School, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health, announced a new website for its Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts,

“We’ve created this new site to be a vital go-to resource for judges, probation officers, clinicians, attorneys, drug court participants and their families, and the public,” said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey. “We expect that interest in the center will only grow as more specialty courts become available to those who urgently need access to the types of specialized intensive probation and treatment programs.”

“The center’s new website will enable us to disseminate information about evidence-based practices, as well as information about trainings and resources to enable specialty courts to incorporate the latest advances,” said Ira K. Packer, PhD, clinical professor of psychiatry at UMMS and director of the Center of Excellence. “The site will also provide useful information to educate the public about specialty courts.”

The website includes a searchable database of national case law and research about specialty courts, the Trial Court’s new Adult Drug Court Manual, announcements for upcoming training and other events, court forms and a list of specialty court sessions in Massachusetts.

Founded in 2014, the center strives to support new specialty courts and provide resources and ideas to foster existing specialty courts throughout Massachusetts. The state’s fiscal year 2016 budget included $3.2 million to expand specialty courts. Specialty courts are court sessions that provide court-supervised probation and mandated treatment focused on treating the mental health or substance abuse issues underlying criminal behavior. Massachusetts has four types of specialty court sessions: drug courts, mental health courts, veterans’ treatment courts and a homeless court. There are 36 specialty courts in Massachusetts, including 22 adult drug courts, six mental health courts, five veterans’ treatment courts and three juvenile drug courts.