New S.F. Justice Center Searches For Purpose


A month after the opening of San Francisco’s Community Justice Center at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin, nobody seems to agree on what the court is supposed to be doing, reports the city’s Chronicle. It opened March 5 and was modeled after a similar court in New York. People found guilty of crimes, mostly drug-related offenses and property crimes, would be sentenced to community service and also be matched with needed social services such as drug treatment and mental health counseling.

Although it is under the direction of the city’s Superior Court, it is a pet project of Mayor Gavin Newsom, which makes it a target for his opponents. But five weeks after it opened, there is clearly a major flaw. It’s not the fact that the defendants rarely show up to court or the lack of holding cells to house people accused of drug crimes. The real failing is that the backers of the court haven’t convinced the neighborhood that the effort is worthwhile.

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