Source: (2000) Prosecutor. 34 (6): 31-35.
The court focuses on the reasons underlying the offensive behavior rather than on the offense and its possible penalties and seeks immediate provision of social services to address homelessness, hunger, mental disorders, drug abuse, or other underlying issues. Immediate intervention is another feature of the court. Offenders must appear within 48 hours of an arrest or summons. The court provides a means for these defendants to pay back the community for their nuisance offenses in the form of community service hours and to do that service as soon as possible after the commission of the offense. The prosecutor uses an approach that is less adversarial than is the norm for a prosecutor. The prosecutor engages the offender as almost a partner in the community service business rather than as another defendant to be prosecuted. Thus, the judge eventually dismisses 95 percent of the cases. The court processed 10,376 cases between November 10, 1998 and August 15, 2000. The city has benefited from almost 43,000 hours of community service. A small percentage of misdemeanor cases transfer to the regular superior court sessions. The court’s experience demonstrates the need to disregard the usual adversarial approach and consider as successful any cases that end with an offender receiving assistance from a social service agency or providing community service.
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