American Judges Association


Date of this Version

May 2005


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 42:1 (2005), pp. 8-19. Copyright © 2005 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at


In 2000, the authors published a book titled Elders, Crime, and the Criminal Justice System: Myth, Perceptions, and Reality in the 21st Century, in which several chapters were devoted to older adults’ interactions with the court system.1 Those chapters revealed that these interactions could be highly problematic for elders. In follow-up, this article is based on a project designed to address the overarching issue of whether and how judicial systems in the United States ensure that older adults (60 and older) are provided effective access to the courts, including both civil and criminal jurisdictions.2 In order to accomplish this goal, courts need to identify and remove barriers within the judicial system, and develop or enhance linkages between elders and the courts as well as with health, mental-health, and social service systems in their communities. This article examines recent developments in judicial administration to establish the context in which this can be achieved. It then analyzes ten specific questions focused on these issues, as well as other areas of importance identified during the course of project site visits. Finally, the article proposes steps or elements necessary in the development of a model plan needed to respond to issues of aging in the courts .

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