Community Court

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Establishment of the Community Court recognizes the hardships faced by both unsheltered individuals and the greater community.

Unsheltered people experience distress when daily life is attended by dejection, desperation, and danger.

The greater community also experiences distress when residents cannot enjoy public spaces, when sidewalks or rights of way become impassable, and when unseemly or even unlawful conduct occurs in plain sight.

Community Court is a joint effort to address the root cause of this personal and communal suffering. The root cause may be simply economic, or it could be addiction or behavioral health issues, or it could be a combination of these conditions.

The role of Prosecutor's Office in Community Court is first and foremost to determine who is eligible to opt in. Not everyone is eligible. For example, a criminal history which includes violent felonies or sex offenses is disqualifying.

Even if eligible to opt in, the crime charged must be a misdemeanor and there must be a nexus between the crime charged and the person's lack of access to reliable shelter.  Examples of disqualifying charges include any felony, any DUI, any domestic violence offense involving an intimate partner, and public sexual indecency.

Finally, Community Court is completely voluntary; meaning that even if the person qualifies based on their criminal history and crime charged, the person must opt into Community Court and choose to actively participate.

For any person participating in Community Court, the Prosecutor's Office stands ready to exercise its prosecutorial discretion in favor of the participant if, and for as long as, they demonstrate a desire to make positive changes in their lives.

For those who do not demonstrate such a desire, the Prosecutor's Office stands ready to seek meaningful criminal consequences, based on the facts of the case and the person's criminal history, always seeking outcomes that rehabilitate instead of debilitate, exactly as we do in every other case.

Community Court will demand much from those who participate because it is meant to help people get back on their feet by providing a compassionate hand up, rather than a handout.

The broad goal of Community Court is to uplift and affirm human dignity by improving the lives of the participants and the greater community. ​