Thursday, October 29, 2009

CJC Town Hall Meeting

Yesterday, October 28th, the CJC held a town hall meeting at 134A Golden Gate Ave. in an effort is to facilitate communications with the community and get some feedback. Unfortunately only about 10 to 11 people showed up including Tomiquia Moss, CJC head coordinator, and Judge Albers, everyone else was an interested party (members of the community court – not to be confused with the CJC, former CJC clients there to give a presentation, myself and one other Hastings student).

Presented at the meeting was an array of statistics about the past 6 months of the CJC. I will try to find out if the stats are posted online, but I will lay out some of the more interesting ones. Since its inception, the CJC has engaged over 400 clients in treatment services, 500 hours of community service have been served, 60% of the caseload is felony cases, there is an average of 24 in-custody defendants per day and 57 out of custody defendants per day. The attendance rate of felony drug offenders is 86% while the attendance rate of low-level misdemeanors remains at 22% (if you have been following the CJC you will remember that the first few weeks were slow because so few defendants showed up, as it turns out that is still the case for low level offenders). There are currently 250 active clients in the CJC, 98% of whom are compliant with treatment.

The most interesting aspect of the discussion revolved around the completion of the holding cells at the CJC. As stated above the court is averaging 24 in-custody clients per day, however the holding cell only has a capacity of 9. The court is now involved in trying to figure out how to continue to work with the same number of in-custody defendants because, according to Judge Albers, these clients are often the ones who benefit most from the services that the CJC has to offer. There is a suggestion that the sheriff may be able to bus the defendants back and forth, but this raises serious cost issues. Judge Albers states that this is “A problem that I am happy to have.”

The topic of this town hall meeting was how to break down barriers to employment in which two former clients of the CJC shared their experiences with fighting addiction and the lure of making quick money by selling drugs while trying to find employment with a criminal record. Ms. Moss then asked for any input from the audience, which did bear some good suggestions including mentorship programs between current and former CJC clients.

Regardless of what you think of the CJC, statistics show that it is growing quickly and may soon need another Judge. Apparently 575 Polk has two courtrooms, one of which has not been used in a long time, and the CJC coordinators are talking about adding another judge to help Albers with his growing caseload. It should be interesting to see how the in-custody matters will work when the holding cell is finally opened within the next few weeks.


Hadar Aviram said...

Thanks, Jon! This is fascinating. I think the center of gravity of the court is changing a bit. It's certainly not the "homelessness court" that some were envisioning, and operates on a larger scale.

Jerry Jarvis said...

It might not of turned into a homeless because people are watching to make sure it doesn't.