The Community Court Grant Program seeks to support the creation, enhancement, and evaluation of community-focused courts across the country.
Launched as a partnership between the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Community Court Grant Program funded 10 sites in 2016. More information about those sites is below, as well as the results of the 2018 Community Court Grant Program.
2018 Community Court Grant Program Sites
Following a national solicitation, the Center has selected five jurisdictions to receive funding and technical assistance, and named four new mentor community courts.
State of Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts (Wilmington, Del.)
The Wilmington community court plans to serve the entire city of Wilmington covering nearly 17 square miles and over 70,000 residents. The project would be a multi-jurisdictional collaboration between the Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, Family Court, and Justice of the Peace Court. The project will focus services on substance abuse, mental health, housing, life skills, and importantly, the creation of job opportunities. Key partners will include the Judiciary, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of Defense Services, the Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, Wilmington City Council, Wilmington Police, New Castle County Police, the Department of Labor, the Division of Substance Abuse, and Mental Health, and many more.
City of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.)
The Fort Lauderdale community court plans to address ordinance violations within the downtown and entertainment districts of the city, with a special focus on improving service delivery for individuals experiencing homelessness. Key partners will include the chief judge Jack Tuter of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, Mayor Dean Trantalis, city prosecutor, court administrator, City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Henderson Behavioral Health, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Broward County, Sunserve, Care Resource, OIC of South Florida, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and Second Chance Society.
Reno Municipal Court (Nev.)
The Reno community court plans to serve the one square-mile downtown area that includes the city’s main business, hotel, and entertainment district. It is anticipated that court will be held in the Downtown Washoe County Library and hearings will include misdemeanor nuisance offense cases. The court will provide targeted resources for individuals experiencing homelessness.
City of Puyallup (Wash.)
The Puyallup community court plans to serve the entire city of Puyallup which includes over 14 square miles and 40,000 residents. The program aims to co-locate social services at the central courthouse to better serve a population that is geographically isolated from needed services. Key project partners include the presiding judge of the municipal court, chief of police, city prosecutor, public defender, court administrator, and several service providers.
General Sessions Court Metro Davidson County (Nashville, Tenn.)
The Music City Community Court plans to serve the entire city of Nashville which includes over 500 square miles and a population of over 625,000 residents. The community court will be geared toward young adults, ages 18-26 who plead guilty to non-violent felonies and misdemeanors. Key partners include the court, district attorney, chief public defender, and a number of service providers.
- Olympia Community Court, Wash.
- Orange County Community Court, California
- South Dallas Community Court, Texas
- Spokane Community Court, Wash.
2016 Community Court Grant Program Sites
Cleveland Community Court (Ohio)
The Cleveland Municipal Court is implementing a community court serving the entire city (pop: 390,000) plus the neighboring Village of Bratenahl. The project includes the use of a risk/needs assessment tool, as well as a process and impact evaluation.
In The News:
- Cleveland Municipal Court gets $200,000 grant to start community court in city, Bratenahl (Cleveland.com, 4.14.16)
Eugene Community Court (Ore.)
The City of Eugene is implementing a community court to serve the city's downtown core, seeking to resolve misdemeanors and violations through community service and service mandates. The court's sessions are being heard in the downtown library, which is also providing a separate room for service providers.
In The News:
- Maintain the momentum: Eugene is finding out what works downtown (The Register-Guard, 11.30.17)
- Courting the ones who need it: Community Court seeks to support rather than sentence (Eugene Weekly 8.24.17)
- Criminalizing Homelessness: Data show the unhoused are disproportionately ticketed in Eugene (Eugene Weekly 6.1.17)
- 'The helping hand is the better idea': Eugene's Community Justice Initiative (KVAL Eugene, 6.15.16)
- Federal grant will launch Eugene Community Court into action (KVAL Eugene 4.15.16)
Honolulu Community Outreach Court (Hawaii)
The City and County of Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the district court and the office of the public defender, is implementing a community court serving the entire city and county of Honolulu (pop: 375,000) – a community with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the United States. The court seeks to resolve quality-of-life offenses with community service and linkages to social services.
In The News:
- An outreach court for the homeless takes its first road trip (Hawaii News Now 12.18.17)
- Special court that gives homeless a second chance plans to expand islandwide (Hawaii News Now 11.16.17)
- Feds award $200K grant toward outreach court for homeless (Hawaii News Now 4.14.16)
- Grant To Help Court Address Backlog (Honolulu Civil Beat, 4.13.16)
Jersey City Community Solutions (N.J.)
The City of Jersey City is implementing a community court calendar for its municipal court, in which 75% of cases heard are for quality-of-life offenses. The project serves the entire city (pop: 257,000).
In The News:
- Is community service and rehab the answer for some offenders in this N.J. city? (NJ.com, 4.18.18)
- Jersey City court program pushes community service, rehab for low-level offenders (Hudson County View, 1.17.18)
- Jersey City to launch court program that focuses on community service (NJ.com, 7.6.17)
- This N.J. city awarded one of 10 nationwide grants for 'Community Court' program (NJ.com, 4.14.16)
Las Vegas Township Community Court (Nev.)
The Las Vegas Township Justice Court is implementing a community court to serve the Las Vegas Strip corridor. The project seeks to reduce crime and the recidivism rate within the 4.2 mile strip corridor. This area is filled with high rates of poverty, homelessness, medically and mentally fragile people, substance abusers and young people who engage in low-level crimes. The project seeks to redesign the arrest-to-arraignment process and resolve quality-of-life cases by including referrals to community and social services.
In The News:
- Reducing Homeless Residents' Jail Time in Petty Crimes (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1.17.17)
- Las Vegas Court Officials Set to Start Community Court Program (KTNV Action News [ABC], 1.3.17)
- Community Court Program Aims to Cut Petty Crime Around Las Vegas Strip (4.24.16)
- Las Vegas Gets Grant for Community Court Program (Las Vegas Sun, 4.21.16)
Olympia Community Court (Wash.)
The City of Olympia’s municipal court is implementing a community court hearing quality-of-life offenses committed in the downtown core. The court is expanding access to on-site services and increasing data collection and analysis.
In The News:
- 36 People Avoided Jail Time Last Year Through Olympia's Community Court (The Olympian, 1.19.17)
- Olympia's Community Court Aims to Combat 'Revolving Door' of Criminal Justice System (The Olympian, 5.28.16)
Philadelphia Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (Pa.)
The Philadelphia Mental Health Care Corporation, in partnership with the municipal court, district attorney’s office, and Defender Association of Philadelphia, is enhancing the city’s five neighborhood-based “AMP” courts by improving participant access to mental health services and increasing training in evidence-based practices.
Restorative Justice Community Court (Cook County, Ill.)
The Circuit Court of Cook County is implementing a community court serving young adults (ages 18-26) in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's west side (pop: 40,000). In addition to service linkages, the court uses restorative justice conferences.
In The News:
- This Chicago Court Uses Peace Circles to Dole Out Justice (WBEZ, 6.19.18)
- Grandmothers of Chicago's Restorative Justice Movement (Chicago Defender, 1.3.18)
- Restorative Justice Court Opens in North Lawndale (Austin Weekly News, 7.26.17)
- First Community Court in Illinois to Open Next Month in North Lawndale (Chicago Sun-Times, 7.20.17)
- Should Communities Have a Say in How Residents Are Punished for Crime? (The Atlantic, 5.2.17)
- New Court Aims to Redefine Young Adult Justice in Chicago (The Christian Science Monitor, 12.24.16)
- Chicago Court To Experiment With ‘Restorative Justice’ Model (CBS Chicago, 4.14.16)
- Restorative Justice Court Headed to North Lawndale (Austin Weekly News, 4.19.16)
- Cook County Circuit Court Wins Grant to Create Community Court (The Chicago Defender, 4.14.16)
- Cook County Court to Try New Approach to Justice (Chicago Tonight, 5.16.16)
- Community Court Offers Hope for Healing (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 5.31.16)
Second Chance Community Improvement Court (Dallas County, Texas)
The Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, in partnership with the district court and the district attorney’s office, is implementing a community court serving young adults (ages 17-25) arrested on misdemeanor and some felony charges. The court is co-located with the South Dallas Community Court and serves the same geographic catchment area.
In The News:
- A Second Change for Young Offenders (ABC Dallas, 4.16.16)
- American Justice in Black and White (and Green) (Huffington Post, 4.15.16)
- City, County Receive $200,000 Department of Justice grant for South Dallas community court (The Dallas Morning News, 4.13.16)
Spokane Community Court (Wash.)
Opened in 2013, the City of Spokane's Downtown Community Court serves the city's central business district, operating out of a public library in an effort to better reach the low-level repeat defendants who are an important part of the court's clientele by connecting them to services in a friendly setting. The model proved so successful that, in 2017, with support from the Community Court Grant Program, the Municipal Court opened Spokane's Northeast Community Court in an existing community center. The grant also supports the creation of a new position coordinating the work of the two courts and the use by both of a risk and needs assessment tool.
In The News:
- Downtown Library Welcomes Spokane Community Court with Open Arms (Center for Court Innovation, 12.28.17)
- Downtown Community Court Expands (City of Spokane, 12.13.17)
- Spokane to Open New Community Court Following Downtown Success (KXLY, 12.11.17)
- Hillyard Adopting Community Court to Keep People Out of Jail (Spokesman-Review, 9.27.17)
- Homeless Advocates Assess Better Options (Muskogee Phoenix [Okla.], 7.26.17)
- Spokane's Community Court Expands (Spokesman-Review, 4.19.17)
- Crimes (and Types) of Punishment (The Inlander, 2.23.17)
- Spokane's Community Court Gets $200,000 Boost (Spokesman-Review, 4.19.16)