Aug 21, 2013 "S.F.'s new night court comes to order in SoMa"

S.F.'s new night court comes to order in SoMa
By John Coté
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Night court is coming to San Francisco. Just don't expect a bald, goofy bailiff and a quirky judge.

This night court won't have either. It's an expansion of District Attorney George Gascón's neighborhood courts program, where community leaders decide culpability and punishment for low-level misdemeanors and infractions such as graffiti and petty theft.

Gascón introduced the program two years ago to resolve low-level cases more efficiently and unclog parts of the court system, while trying to reduce the chances that someone would reoffend. The idea is that when a teen who has been tagging storefronts, for instance, comes face to face with church leaders, business owners and other figures from his neighborhood, who sentence him to clean up his mess and do some other community service, he'll be less likely to do it again.

The courts started out slowly, but have since gained momentum.

"Due to an increase in cases, members of San Francisco's communities requested expanded hours to increase participant and community participation," Gascón said in a statement announcing the expanded hours.

The new night court will be held monthly in the SoMa neighborhood at the Eucharist Church, 285 Main St., from 6 to 8 p.m., starting Thursday.

According to Gascón, cases heard at San Francisco's 10 neighborhood courts saved $330,000 last year compared with handling the cases through the criminal court system.

Click here to view article online.

No comments: