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?