The result of an unprecedented collaboration between the Trial Court, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, and the Department of Mental Health, the Center of Excellence will serve as a laboratory for innovative leadership and research, standardizing best practices for juvenile and adult specialty court sessions. The new think tank will also help the court system create and implement effective ways to address issues of mental health, substance use disorders, and trauma within the criminal justice system. As the Specialty Court program expands, the Center will also standardize the program’s certification process, training, and data collection across the court system.

“Expanding specialty courts across the Commonwealth is a key initiative outlined in the Trial Court’s Strategic Plan. We look forward to working with a talented partner who can help the Court achieve its vision of doubling the number of specialty courts in Massachusetts by 2017,” said Chief Justice Carey. “This new Center of Excellence will enable us to provide a more coordinated effort to establish state-wide alternatives to incarceration while improving public safety. The Center will also help us create a robust drug court certification process, coordinate cross-court departmental training, and standardize data collection across the court system, which will in turn put a sound framework in place for continuous improvement and innovation of our rapidly expanding specialty court program.”

The selected organization will work with a Trial Court committee focused on specialty courts and access to justice initiatives, and with related agencies and community groups. The organization will also help train Court employees who will work with the Center.

The Center of Excellence will be under the direction of the Specialty Courts Administrator. There will be an Advisory Committee of senior leadership from the Executive Office of the Trial Court, and from the following:

  • Office of the Commissioner of Probation
  • Judicial Institute
  • Department of Mental Health
  • Department of Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
  • Governor’s Interagency Council on Substance Use Disorders and Prevention
  • Governor’s Crime Commission
  • Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association
  • Department of Veterans’ Services
  • Committee for Public Counsel Services
  • Massachusetts District Attorneys Association

The Trial Court will select a vendor in the fall. The RFP is available online.