Baltimore Seeks To Emulate D.C. Community Court


A Washington, D.C., woman was charged with prostitution; instead of jail time, Judge Ann O’Regan Keary of the District of Columbia’s Superior Court ordered her to a halfway house where she would receive counseling and other services, the Baltimore Sun reports. If the woman sticks with the rehabilitation plan, the charge would not appear on her record and she could avoid jail. Keary presides over one of two community courts; one for quality-of-life crimes and traffic citations; the other, prostitution, simple assault, and some drug cases.

Observing in court was a Baltimore group from the prosecutor’s office, advocacy groups, and neighborhood associations. The group is working to create a similar court in the city, but it would like to focus strictly on women in prostitution. Baltimore’s courts handle 1,200 prostitution cases a year, not including those involving men charged with solicitation. The community court concept, which had success in New York and other cities, is not new. Leaders from the city’s business community and court system teamed up in the 1990s to create such a court but it was scrapped when the Early Resolution Court, which deals with nuisance crimes but doesn’t offer the same level of social services, was created.


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