How Do the California Collaborative Justice Courts Work?
California problem-solving courts, sometimes referred to as the Collaborative Justice Courts, use judicial supervision and rehabilitative services combined with a rigorous monitoring process to help court program participants reduce recidivism and improve offender outcomes. California collaborative justice courts include:
- Community Courts
- Drug Courts
- DUI Courts
- Homeless Courts
- Mental Health Courts
- Reentry Courts
- Veteran Courts
The state of California also operates Juvenile Collaborative Courts such as:
- Juvenile collaborative justice court types
- Youth Domestic Violence/Dating Violence Court
- Juvenile Drug Courts
- Juvenile Mental Health Courts
- Peer/Youth Court
- Girls Court and CESE Courts
The Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee advises and makes recommendations on the operations of the problem-solving courts to the Judicial Council of the California Judiciary. The Advisory’s Committees’ mission is to:
- Make recommendations on the criteria for identifying and evaluating CJCs
- Assess and measure the effectiveness of CJCs
- Identify local best practices
- Make recommendations on the minimum judicial education standards and educational activities
- Advise the Judicial Council on potential sources of fund
- Recommend grant funding programs administered by the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC); and
- Make recommendations on appropriate outreach activities to support collaborative justice courts.
The fundamental principles on which the California Collaborate Justice Courts Advisory Committee emphasizes the operations of the CJCs are premised on the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ ten critical components in defining Drug Courts. These are:
- Identifying eligible participants early and promptly placing them in the CJC program;
- Monitoring compliance frequently;
- Integrating CJC services with justice system processing;
- Focusing on the desired goals and outcomes without using the traditional adversarial process;
- Adopting a coordinated strategy to govern the CJC’s responses to participants” compliance, using a system of sanctions and incentives to foster compliance;
- Sustaining judicial interaction with every CJC participant;
- Frequently appraising the achievement of goals to measure the effectiveness;
- Providing access to a raft of services inclusive of treatment and rehabilitative services;
- Organizing continuous interdisciplinary education;
- Establishing partnerships with other CJCs, public agencies, and community-based organizations to improve local support, increase service availability, and enhance the effectiveness of CJC programs;
- Developing a team and personal commitment to cultural competency through awareness and responsiveness to cultural issues and diversity.
California Homeless Courts are court sessions held in a local shelter designed for homeless citizens. These courts help resolve outstanding misdemeanor criminal warrants such as public drunkenness, sleeping on a sidewalk, or the beach, disorderly conduct, and unauthorized removal of a shopping cart.
Homeless persons are inclined to be apprehensive of attending court settings even though an outstanding warrant limits their reintegration into society through social services and employment impediments. Hence, the Homeless Court’s resolution of outstanding warrants would meet a fundamental need of homeless persons, ease case backlogs, and reduce vagrancy. There are Homeless Courts in San Diego, Los Angeles, Alameda, and Ventura.
California Community courts focus on quality-of-life crimes and cleaning up neighborhoods declining due to corruption and neglect. California Community Courts encourage community groups to identify problems in the area and join in developing solutions. The San Francisco Community Justice Center (CJC) and the Orange County Community Court are examples of Community Courts in California.
California Adult Drug Courts are court programs that provide an alternative to traditional criminal justice case adjudication for high risk or high need persons struggling with substance abuse. Besides reducing recidivism and substance abuse in substance-abusing offenders, the Drug Courts also aim to increase offenders’ likelihood of successful rehabilitation by addressing any underlying issues connected to their criminal justice involvement.
Although Drug Courts in California operate differently, the courts strive to adhere to the NADCP’s best practice standards. Several of these courts use post-adjudication models where participants are placed in drug court after pleading guilty. Upon completion of the program, participants may have charges reduced. Drug courts operating the diversion and pre-pleas models do not require initial guilty pleas. California also has Juvenile and Dependency Drug Courts that use similar models as the Adult Drug Courts. The Juvenile and Family Drug Courts and the Adult Drug Courts are located at:
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
Phone: (415) 865–8994 (Adult Drug Courts)
(415) 865–7739 (Juvenile and Family Drug Courts)
DUI courts are focused on providing personalized treatment and supervision to defendants with repeat DUI/DWI charges. California DUI Courts offer an alternative to the traditional incarceration method through a rigorous process of management, accountability, and rehabilitative treatment. DUI Courts aim to reduce traffic fatalities, limit impaired driving, and support defendants’ return to society by tackling any underlying substance use disorders or mental health problems. The DUI courts have a thorough clinical assessment procedure of identifying participants in the court program. All participants voluntarily consent to participation. The case management team of the DUI Courts typically consists of members of the justice system, mental health providers, and other support systems.
Mental Health Courts are focused on providing specific services and treatments to defendants dealing with mental illness. These courts connect defendants to various rehabilitative services and support networks. Participation requirements and serves on offer vary from one Mental Health Court to the other.
Essentially, California Mental Health Courts aim to reduce recidivism, support participants’ return to the society, increase public safety, and improve participant’s quality of life. Participation in the Mental Health Court is voluntary; however, persons are only accepted if they demonstrate a mental illness associated with their illegal behavior. A group of professionals typically supervises the case management team in the court.
California Reentry Courts are court programs for persons who have been released from prison, have violated the conditions stipulated for community supervision, and have a history of mental health issues or substance abuse. Although Reentry Courts operate differently across jurisdictions in California, several similarities are still evident among the courts. These include:
- A team led by the judge, a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a parole agent, a probation officer, and treatment staff/case managers
- Assessment of participants for their risk of re-offending and treatment needs
- Connecting participants to a diverse support system such as mental health treatment, substance use treatment, and housing.
- Attendance of court sessions one to four times a month for progress discussions
- Recommendation for early discharge from community supervision when participants complete the court program. Typically, Reentry Courts participants stay approximately 12–18 months in the program.
The Veteran Treatment Courts focus on veterans’ criminal behavior’s root causes to resolve criminal cases through treatment and support. Programs are often very personalized for participants who frequently meet with a judicial officer, other veterans, treatment providers, mentors, and support teams. Cases are mostly transferred to the Veteran Treatment Court by a court order from the judge in a case. The court accepts all military branches, including reserves and the National Guard. Although eligibility requirements vary by county, most Veteran Treatment Courts in California accept certain types of misdemeanor and felony cases and require participants to:
- Have served in the military;
- Plead guilty in a criminal case;
- Be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), substance or other diagnosed disorders; and
- Voluntarily agree to participate in a 15–18-month program.
Veteran Court locations in California are listed below: