Nov 16, 2017

Veterans Justice Court in the news!

Thirty-three graduates were honored at the San Francisco Veterans Justice Court's annual celebration, which took place on November 8, 2017 to commemorate Veterans Day. The event was highlighted in an article published by SFGate and another report published by ABC 7 News.

One of the graduates honored that day was San Francisco resident and VJC graduate Clarence Cook, Sr. Mr. Cook faced 25 years in prison, but instead enrolled in VJC and is now about to celebrate a year of sobriety.

"The only thing that saved me was this lady,” [Mr. Cook] said, referring to his case manager, Jenna Ferrara. “Got me in veterans court. Best thing that ever happened to me.”

"Judge Jeffrey S. Ross jokes with graduate Clarence Cooks with fellow veteran and graduate Andrew Cross at the celebration held at the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in San Francisco, CA." / Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special to The Chronicle

"Special SF court gives military veterans a 2nd chance" (SFGate)
"Criminal court program gives veterans 'a second chance'" (ABC 7 News)

Jun 2, 2017

OC Register: "Is there a link between neighborhood rehab programs and petty crime in California?"

People should be more concerned about liquor stores in their neighborhoods than drug treatment centers... [D]rug treatment centers do not impact communities any more than other commercial businesses."

The Orange County Register published an article this week on the rise of petty crime since the passage of Prop. 47 in November 2014 and possible links to the increase in drug treatment centers. The article describes the complexity of making this connection, including the lack of available data. According to Roxi Fyad, spokesperson for the Costa Mesa Police Department, “There is no statistical crime data gathered that traces back a crime to a sober living facility to show how these facilities impact crime.” 

Additionally, , promised prevention services to mitigate the effects of Prop. 47 never came through. As stated by Bernard Parks, the former Los Angeles police chief and city councilman, “They’ve been talking about all of these preventive programs that were going to be funded on the savings of all the money out of the state prison system. Find one dollar retrieved from the state prison system and invested in one of these preventive programs. It’s been a farce from the beginning.”

May 26, 2017

Collaborative Courts Speakers Series: Adolescents, Young Adults, and the Brain

San Francisco Collaborative Courts offers a quarterly speaker series to provide relevant training opportunities to partners across justice, substance use, mental health, and family service systems. Participation is free of charge.

Upcoming training opportunity: 

Adolescents, Young Adults, and the Brain
Friday, June 9, 2:30-4:30pm
Judicial Council of California
455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Milton Marks Auditorium, lower level


Working with adolescents and young adults requires an understanding of the developmental processes affecting behavior, decision making, capacity and motivation. This training provides an overview of the typical and trauma-reactive developmental changes in adolescence and young adulthood. Training content provides a brief overview of neuroscience, substance use, developmental differentiation, mental health issues and trauma. Participants will learn key strategies for positive engagement with youth and young adults. 


Dr. Gena Castro Rodriguez, Psy.D., holds a BA in psychology from Sacramento State University, a Masters in Counseling Psychology from University of San Francisco, and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from California Institute for Integral Studies. She has worked in the dependency, delinquency and criminal justice systems for 25 years, including 10 years as the co-founder and executive director of the Youth Justice Institute. She is currently the Chief of the Victim Services Division and Parallel Justice Programs for San Francisco District Attorney’s Office overseeing victim advocacy, restitution, State Victims Compensation Program and the Sentencing Planning Program. Her clinical and research interests are in the areas of trauma, delinquency, cultural humility, victimology and gender responsivity.

The training is free and CEU credits (MCLE and BBS) will be provided. RSVP is not required. Room is available based on seating capacity. Feel free to forward this information.

May 22, 2017

SF Young Adult Court in the News!

Two recent articles highlighted the importance and impact of the San Francisco Young Adult Court.

The New York Times
"A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science"
By Tim Requart
April 17, 2017

Photo: Laura Morton / The New York Times

"Surprisingly, this alternative legal philosophy springs not from concerns about overcrowded prisons or overburdened courts, but from neuroscience.

"Researchers have long known that the adolescent brain is continually rewiring itself, making new connections and pruning unnecessary neurons as it matures. Only recently has it become clear that the process stretches well into early adulthood.

"Buried in that research is an uncomfortable legal question: If their brains have not fully matured, how responsible are adults ages 18 to 24 for their crimes?

"Should they be treated more like adolescents, handled in the comparatively lenient juvenile system, or more like hardened 35-year-olds? Should young adults be held fully responsible for certain crimes but not others?"

The San Francisco Chronicle
"Programs in sanctuary cities threatened by federal funding cut"
By Emily Green
March 30, 2017

"In San Francisco, an innovative court program that helps young adults facing criminal charges or who have already been convicted pull their lives together began in 2015 with the help of a Justice Department grant. A team of city employees helps the defendants find jobs, housing and enroll in school. If a defendant meets the goals — about a third graduate — they earn a reduced criminal record or even no record at all."