Community Justice Center - San Francisco Superior Court

Justice Partners Collaboration icon Project Name: Community Justice Center
Court: San Francisco Superior Court
   Documents: Fact Sheet
   Links: Website

Overview/Program Description:

The Community Justice Center (CJC), launched in March 2009, is a geographically based Collaborative Court and social service center serving the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Union Square, and SOMA neighborhoods of San Francisco. At the CJC Service Center, co-located with the CJC courtroom, clients can access case management, shelter placement, assistance applying for benefits, on-site support groups, and service linkages to a wide variety of community providers.

The CJC emphasizes defendant accountability through judicial monitoring. Immediate interventions address the primary issues facing defendants, including substance abuse, housing, employment, and mental and physical health. The CJC is a collaboration of the San Francisco Superior Court and numerous social services and criminal justice partners and community based organizations seeking to improve public safety and the lives of CJC clients and community residents. The CJC is the only community court in California to hear serious case types, including nonviolent felonies and probation revocation cases. The team of legal, clinical, and court professionals works together to address the underlying problems that bring defendants into the justice system. The CJC engages with the community through a quarterly advisory board comprised of community members.

The CJC has heard nearly 10,000 cases involving roughly 6,000 defendants since March 2009. Over 2,500 San Franciscans have been assessed for clinical services at the Community Justice Center. Roughly one quarter of clinical clients are also on the CJC/Adult Probation Department caseload. Among incoming cases, 27 percent are misdemeanors and 73 percent are felonies. Nearly 90 percent of felony cases are drug related. The time between misdemeanor citation and first appearance is one week, compared to traditional case processing of 45 days at the Hall of Justice. The appearance rate at CJC is 79 percent in 2013 to date.

Program Benefits/Savings:

The number of cases that the CJC processes has alleviated the potential backlog in other courtrooms. Also, with citations coming directly to the CJC, they can be delivered directly to the Assistant District Attorney on site, processed quickly by their office, added to the court calendar within a few days instead of a few weeks, and the clients have court dates that are more immediate. As a result, cases are resolved more quickly and efficiently for the public, the court, and the District Attorney's office. With respect to procedural fairness, most clients report a preference for having their cases handled at the CJC and feel they are being treated with respect and with concern for their well-being.