The National Community Court Initiative supports the creation, enhancement, and evaluation of community-focused courts across the country.
In 2020, seven sites around the country became the newest community courts supported by the Department of Justice-Bureau of Justice Assistance's 2-year National Community Court Grant Initiative. Each of these sites receives rigorous technical assistance from the Center's National Training and Technical Assistance Team as they either create new community courts or enhance existing community courts serving their jurisdictions. The 2020 cohort focuses on housing, access to services, and alternatives to incarceration in their efforts to improve equity in the justice system.
2020 Community Court Cohort
Following a national solicitation, the Bureau of Justice Assistance selected seven jurisdictions to receive funding and technical assistance to either implement or enhance local community courts.
Albany Works!, Albany, GA (2020)
The Albany Municipal Court plans to expand its “Albany Works!” pilot to conduct outreach to veterans in addition to serving more individuals between the ages of 18-35 who have a history of multiple misdemeanor offenses who are deemed “undereducated, underemployed, and/or homeless.” The court will make referrals to social service providers in lieu of fines and jail sentences, with a focus on education and employment opportunities. Successful completion of the program will result in dismissal of fines and case expungement.
Skagit County Community Court, Skagit County, WA (2020)
Skagit County seeks to develop a Community Court Program to reduce and properly address low-level nonviolent misdemeanor crimes of poverty, drug addiction, and mental health offenses in Skagit County District and Municipal Courts. The courts, in collaboration with social service professionals and community providers, are dedicated to helping each participant reach practical and targeted solutions.
Boulder Community Court, Boulder, CO (2020)
The Boulder community court serves community members experiencing homelessness in the city of Boulder. The focus of the program is to reduce continued quality of life violations by preparing for and obtaining long term housing for participants. The program seeks to address the current barriers that often prevent this population from more fully engaging in services. By partnering with mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, utilizing hotels for bridge housing, and providing case management and life skills training, the court will increase the ability of participants to access and prove successful in long term housing. The Boulder Community Court works closely with the City Attorney’s office, the Boulder Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, the court’s Homeless Navigators, and local social service agencies and community groups to provide wrap-around support and points of contact for participants. While Covid-19 restrictions are in effect, the Boulder Community Court is using technology to provide a mobile court that engages people where they are, such as at a weekly breakfast and clothes closet provided by a local church.
Reno Municipal Court, Reno, NV (2020, 2018)
The Reno community court serves the one square-mile downtown area that includes the city’s main business, hotel, and entertainment district. The court is held in the Downtown Washoe County Library and hearings include misdemeanor nuisance offense cases. The court provides targeted resources for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Spokane Community Court, Spokane, WA (2020, 2016)
Opened in 2013, the City of Spokane's Downtown Community Court serves the city's central business district, operating out of a public library to better reach the low-level repeat defendants by connecting them to services in a friendly setting. This model proved so successful that, in 2017, a second site was opened in a Northeast Spokane community center.
"The barriers to housing discrimination are actually affecting not just the person going through homelessness, but the entire family nucleus is impacted by it."
– Francis Adewale, Public Defender
As a 2020 grant recipient, the City of Spokane once again expanded its community court model into the East Central area. Through community collaboration, the Spokane Municipal Community Court endeavors to hold participants accountable, address factors impacting participants’ criminal behavior, address victim needs, and increase public confidence in the local criminal justice system and thereby attempt to improve the quality of life all over Spokane.
Olympia Community Court, Olympia, WA (2020, 2016)
The City of Olympia’s municipal court opened its community court in 2016 to hear quality-of-life offenses committed in the downtown core. Since its launch, the community court has expanded access to services by repurposing a formerly vacant building steps away from the courthouse, and increased data collection and analysis. Early social service links, including on-site mental health and drug and alcohol evaluations, have been key components to the success of the court. Graduates are invited back to volunteer and/or provide mentor support to participants. A community court garden provides community service opportunities and provides food for participants and local food banks. Olympia Community Court was recognized as a Mentor Community Court in 2018, hosting numerous site visits and sharing best practices with the field.
Las Vegas Township Community Impact Center, Las Vegas, NV (2020, 2016)
The Las Vegas Justice Court Misdemeanor Treatment Court Program (MTC) is geared to reduce recidivism by utilizing judicial supervision of low level misdemeanor offenders, addressing quality of life needs by coordination of services that address substance use treatment, and providing wrap around services. MTC is located at the Community Impact Center building, approximately 1 mile east of the Las Vegas Strip on Twain and Royal Crest Streets. Community Court encourages broad involvement, participation and partnership by non-profit providers, government social services, community groups and all justice partners. We are committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect.
2018 & 2016 Cohorts
- State of Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts, Wilmington, DE (2018)
- Fort Lauderdale Community Court, Fort Lauderdale, FL (2018)
- Puyallup Community Court, Puyallup, WA (2018)
- Music City Community Court, Nashville, TN (2018)
- Cleveland Community Court, Cleveland, OH (2016)
- Eugene Community Court, Eugene, OR (2016)
- Honolulu Community Outreach Court, Honolulu, HI (2016)
- Jersey City Community Solutions, Jersey City, NJ (2016)
- Philadelphia Accelerated Misdemeanor Program, Philadelphia, PA (2016)
- Restorative Justice Community Court, Cook County, IL (2016)
Learn more about the 2016 and 2018 Cohorts