Mayor Newsom today commemorated the one year anniversary of the Community Justice Center (CJC) and provided an update on the Center’s progress. The CJC provides accountability for lower-level criminal behavior, and addresses the root issues associated with this behavior including substance abuse or mental illness.
“The Community Justice Center is designed to ensure that people in need are connected to services and the requirements of an efficient and rehabilitative justice system,” said Mayor Newsom.
“Drawing upon our network of services, the commitment of our community partners, and the compassion of our residents, the Center gives relief to the neighborhoods most affected by quality of life crimes.”
Since opening its doors in March, 2009, the CJC, serving the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Union Square and SOMA neighborhoods, has heard the cases of 2,161 defendants.
It has engaged 860 clients in social services, including drug treatment, mental health treatment, primary care, employment and education services, and housing services.
The average appearance rate for CJC clients is 73 percent. In traditional courtrooms, just 20 percent of defendants picked up for committing low-level crimes appear in court.
Once at the center, the offender meets with a defense attorney, has his or her case reviewed by a district attorney, appears before a judge and begins receiving services immediately.
A case manager meets with the offender, determines their most pressing needs and connects the offender to psychiatric care, substance abuse treatment, and other assistance.
In the next six months of operations the CJC anticipates receiving 400 new cases per month, up from the average of 222 cases (the first year of operations).
Also, in the next six months, the CJC anticipates receiving 150 new clients per month up from 61 per month (the first year of operations).
The CJC is modeled on the Mid-Town Manhattan Court in New York City. The New York model is credited with reducing lower-level crime throughout Manhattan and Times Square. In New York, this approach has saved money, improved public safety and streamlined the process of connecting offenders with treatment.
Today, more than 40 cities in the United States have a version of a community court and various countries are developing their own models.
“After just one year, the CJC is proving to make a dramatic difference in people’s lives and in administering justice for lower level crimes,” said Mayor Newsom.
“Even as we must make tough budget choices in these difficult economic times, I’m committed to preserving the CJC as a priority next year.”
See Related: CRIME
HAPPY PESACH 2010