San Francisco Starting New Courts On Parole, Probation Cases


San Francisco is about to launch two new courtroom initiatives that help people on parole and probation get reacquainted with life on the outside, says the San Francisco Examiner. The programs are funded through federal stimulus grants totaling almost $2 million. The biggest chunk will go toward a Superior Court Parole Reentry Court, which will offer services to inmates leaving state prison. Those “wraparound services” include employment help, education, mental health counseling, and housing services. It's part of a growing emphasis on “problem-solving courts,” which include a courtroom that concentrates on drug offenders and the Community Justice Center that handles “quality-of-life” crimes, such as homeless problems, public urination, aggressive panhandling or being drunk in public.

A Probation Accountability Court will concentrate on people who break their probation. Instead of going back to jail, the offender will have another chance to enter services, says Chief Probation Officer Wendy Still. Efforts to reduce the number of probationers who reoffend could end up paying off by the end of 2010. A new state law provides for tracking. If a department can lower its recidivism level, the savings realized by sending fewer inmates to prison goes back to the local agency.

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