Apr 6, 2009

Community Justice Center Update

The Superior Court and the CJC team began moving into 555 and 575 Polk St. March 5, 2009. The CJC is finding its sea legs and we are beginning to develop programming for the Service Center located at 555 Polk St and ramp up the cases that we are seeing in Court.

To date we have heard just over 90 cases. We have seen about 35 clients for services. More that 95% of the clients have followed up for voluntary services after their CJC court appearance. The clients have been receiving one on one counseling, mental health and substance use assessments, shelter referrals, eligibility for benefits and job and educational assessments, as well as community service. The collaborative court concept is not new to San Francisco and we are looking toward our other collaborative courts, Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, and Prop 36, as we pave the way for the CJC.

We are still working out a great deal of logistics. The collaborative nature of the CJC, as well as its focus on a geographic region present exciting opportunities to serve people most in need, but also create logistical challenges that the CJC team is still grappling with moving forward.

The various community and city partners have been great in helping establish and implement this exciting partnership. On the second day of court (when we had 100% appearance rate… we are grappling with this as well), I was escorting a client up stairs to meet with the Social Work team and she asked what this new court was about. I told her that we were combining access to services with the criminal justice process so that people can actually address the root causes of their criminal activity, and she simply looked at me at said, “What took so long? This should have been happening a long time ago.” It was in that moment, with a client eager to address the issues that brought her to court, that concept of the CJC became a reality. This client was subsequently linked to our on-site partners from City College and is working to get her High School equivalency and eventually obtain sustainable employment.

I will regularly update this blog with notes about the CJC’s progress. As we move forward, we rely on community input and feedback to help us continue to realize the mission of the CJC.

Upcoming Events:

April 8: Please join us for a community workshop at Glide Church in the Freedom Hall located at 330 Ellis St. on April 8th from 10:30 -12 noon.

Late April: The public is invited to the first regularly scheduled coffee hours. Come by the CJC, find out what we are doing and get connected to all the CJC has to offer.

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