Oct 16, 2014

RAND study shows CJC leads to fewer arrests

The RAND Corporation released its study of San Francisco’s Community Justice Center last week. 

CJC opened in March 2009 and through December 2013 had heard nearly 10,000 cases involving 6,000 defendants. The program seeks to help arrestees receive the services they need and reduce the likelihood that arrestees ultimately end up with convictions on their permanent record. 

“Our findings support the hypothesis that San Francisco’s Community Justice Center reduces criminal recidivism,” said Beau Kilmer, the study’s lead author and a senior policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Kilmer and co-author Jesse Sussell examined one-year rearrest rates among those arrested for eligible offenses -- such as theft, vandalism, drug offenses, assault and disorderly conduct -- inside and outside the catchment area both before and after the CJC opened. The analysis found that the probability of rearrest for those originally arrested outside the CJC catchment area increased over time, while the probability of rearrest for those originally arrested inside the center’s jurisdiction decreased over time. After applying statistical models, researchers estimate that those arrested for an eligible offense in the CJC catchment area after it opened were 8.9 percent to 10.3 percent less likely to be rearrested within one year.

Because CJC's intervention is multifaceted, an important question for future research is determining which elements of the community court are most beneficial. Access to services is an obvious candidate, but in San Francisco another candidate is the reduced interval between citation and first appearance in court. Sussell said that arrestees cited to the traditional system typically were ordered to report to the court more than a month after a citation was issued. Arrestees cited to the Community Justice Center often had to report to the court within seven business days.

“Not only do we want to learn more about how access to services affects these arrestees, we also want to know whether decreasing the number of days between arrest and going to court makes a difference,” Sussell said.

Funding for the study was provided by the City and County of San Francisco.

Click below to read the full report and appendix:
Does San Francisco’s Community Justice Center Reduce Criminal Recidivism?

CJC selected as one of four Mentor Courts nationwide

Last month, the Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, selected the San Francisco Community Justice Center as one of four sites to serve as mentor courts for other jurisdictions seeking to promote implement alternatives to incarceration. Other sites include: Dallas, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; and Orange County, Calif.

"The mentor courts will encourage courts around the country to rethink the standard approach to low-level crime, emphasizing alternatives to incarceration where appropriate and engaging local residents in doing justice," said Kim Ball, senior policy advisor at BJA.

Click this link to read the full announcement:

Congratulations to the CJC staff for receiving this important recognition of their dedication and hard work!

Aug 21, 2014

NYTimes: Methadone, buprenorphine underprovided to treat opioid dependence

This month, The New York Times' Upshot series provided analysis on the potential cost savings associated with treating opiate dependent patients with maintenance therapies, such as methadone or buprenorphine. A graph in the article, "Dealing With Opioid Abuse Would Pay For Itself", shows that treating 50% of patients for opiate dependence with these medications would yield $2.7 billion in savings to society, a calculation that "includes both the cost of treatment and costs imposed on society (e.g. lost productivity, crime) by untreated addiction."

Why is maintenance treatment for opioid dependence underprovided despite the cost savings to society?

"One answer is that, though treatment works, its benefits are diffuse. A great deal of the cost of treatment would be borne by insurers and public health programs. But a great deal of the savings would be captured by society at large (through a reduction in crime, for example)."

Another reason is that maintenance therapy "is still misunderstood. Culturally, there’s a temptation to view dependency as a result of poor lifestyle choices, not as a chronic disease, and to view maintenance treatment as merely substituting one addiction for another."

In conclusion:

"It’s clear that treatment for opioid dependency is underprovided for a variety of reasons, and that this, in turn, helps promote the growth in the problems dependency causes. But it’s also clear that those dependent on opioids aren’t the only victims. Because of the social costs the problem causes, many others are as well."

Click here to view the full article.

Aug 19, 2014

Center for Court Innovation expands online resources

Building on the Community Justice 2014 summit in San Francisco, the Center for Court Innovation has expanded its online resources, which now include the agenda and supplemental materials from the summit, along with an increasing number of podcast interviews with featured speakers.

Embedded image permalink
Twitter: http://pic.twitter.com/buBBpzcj0f
The following is a selection of available podcasts:

Gavin Newsom: Community Justice 2014
In keynote remarks at Community Justice 2014, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom draws a parallel between community justice and internet innovations like Craig's List and Uber, praising them for their the bottom-up, customized approaches to doing business.

After 5 Years, the San Francisco Community Justice Center Continues to Adapt
Judge Braden C. Woods of the San Francisco Community Justice Center discusses the practical implications of expanding the court's caseload to include low-level felonies, and he reflects on his first year on the job. 

Improving Outcomes by Assessing the Impact of Trauma on Offenders
Courts need to assess offenders for traumatic exposures so they can match them to effective services and improve treatment outcomes, says Kathleen West, an expert on trauma-informed care and lecturer at the University of California. In this New Thinking podcast, West discusses what we know about the impact of trauma on litigants and the justice system.

Click here to access all podcasts and other online materials.