Source: (2010) Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal. 7: 53-70.

The Tenderloin Community Justice Center ("CJC") is not new, experimental or revolutionary. Rather, it is one of many courts around the country that make use of a variety of tools besides incarceration to try and solve the underlying causes of a person's criminal acts. The CJC is modeled directly on very successful courts already in existence throughout the country and the world. The CJC, which opened its doors in March of 2009, is still fighting for survival in the midst of a violent political climate and a fiscal drought, but it deserves our honest and thoughtful consideration. Unfortunately, the depth of misconception surrounding the whole project threatens to make the necessary debate over theory and fact little more than a make the necessary debate over theory and fact little more than a political skirmish of hyperbole and puffery. Ultimately, I will argue that the CJC warrants our best efforts so that we may realize potential fiscal savings for the government, as well as the true rehabilitation and systemic change that the community justice model offers. This paper aims to frame the debate more clearly, explaining the theory and models that the CJC is built upon. I will summarize the growth of similar projects around the country and in California, and relate it to some of the data that has been collected about these projects. I will further explain the shortcomings of the traditional criminal justice system, which the CJC aims to address, and the reasons why proponents of the CJC regard it as the best solution to some of San Francisco's problems. Finally, I will address two key criticisms of the CJC that recur throughout the current debate. I should note that this paper is not attempting to give a complete or even fully accurate account of the history and implementation of the community court concept. Rather, it aims to provide a brief synopsis of what these courts entail and how they fundamentally differ from what most people would consider a "normal" criminal court. (Author's introduction).