More than half of the cases brought to San Francisco’s new Community Justice Center – a court that prosecutes the low-level crimes that plague the Tenderloin neighborhood – are discharged, including more than 90 percent of the cases involving sleeping outside, blocking sidewalks, and creating a public nuisance. The San Francisco Chronicle said those are the findings of a report prepared by a UC Berkeley doctoral student that, like everything related to the court, has become controversial. Opponents say it is further proof the court is an expensive waste of time. The court’s supporters say those being cited for low-level crimes are accessing social services through the court even if their cases are discharged – which wouldn’t happen in the traditional court system.
Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors’ budget committee suggested it will try to remove all funding for the court in the coming weeks. The court opened in March at a cost of $2.7 million, with about half paid by the city and half by grants. The court, modeled after one in New York that has been replicated worldwide, aims to sentence perpetrators to community service in neighborhoods where they committed crimes and to connect them to social services to address underlying problems.