Monday, July 27, 2009

The Community Justice Center Celebrates 100 Days of Existence

Taking a break for a moment from the budget woes, the San Francisco Community Justice Center reports on its first 100 days.

In the first 100 days since the CJC opened, the program has been able to reduce delay for misdemeanor citations from 45 days to 2 days for the first court appearance. The court has taken most "out of custody" misdemeanor cases, and is increasing its felony cases. The court has successfully engaged people in treatment plans under our diversion laws immediately upon program entry. Of the 160 clients who have engaged in services, 60 accessed care under a justice mandate, 60 defendants voluntarily engaged in services and 40 ‘walked-in’ or were referred from other agencies. There is already a cost-savings story to tell. An estimate of jail bed savings of only 5 CJC defendants totals $23,000. In tracking 2 clients identified as high users of multiple systems (repeated hospital visits, emergency psychiatric treatment, police and fire in a 6 month period), the CJC’s centralized services coupled with court accountability reduced these costs by 50 percent.

While enjoying strong support from the Mayor and District Attorney, and some publicity due to the personal appearance of the SF Public Defender, the CJC has also been criticized during its inception. Recently, the court has not been on the news; some of this may be due to the fact that one of its more vocal critics, Supervisor Chris Daly, is currently occupied with other matters.

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