Community Justice Center Courts Controversy

Report shows San Francisco cases, major and minor, likely to be dropped

San Francisco's Community Justice Center isn't handling most of the cases sent its way, according to report written by a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley.

The CJC is meant to be an alternative to normal courts, handling smaller-stakes crimes that tax the overburdened criminal justice system.

But the $2.7 million program, half of which is funded by taxpayers, has been a font of controversy.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi has complained that support staff promised by the mayor's office, which has championed the new court, hasn't been provided.

A Board of Supervisors committe voted to eliminate a proposal to provide four bailiffs, and supervisors are threatening to further cut funding as part of the new budget.

Supporters contend that even if the cases aren't handled, the program is connecting the poor and homeless with services, and that many cases are dismissed because those cited are agreeing to treatment and support instead.

"I just don't feel like I have enough information to make any kind of judgment about whether the court is fulfilling its mission," Melissa Stills, the author of the report, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jackson West thinks that coercing addicts into treatment is unlikely to result in a positive outcome.

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