Eugene is considering adopting a community court for specific crimes, with the goal of promoting public safety and reducing costs incurred by jail sentences.
The community court system is a innovative approach to public safety and crime prevention. First implemented in 1993 in New York City, the system’s goals are to create a stronger community by filling gaps in the criminal justice system by helping offenders receive needed services such as addiction counseling. The hope is that by addressing certain crimes on a neighborhood level, recidivism will be reduced through court mandated rehabilitation. The community court system has since been used in many major cities across the United States including: Portland, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Memphis and many other municipalities.
Here in Eugene, there are currently 20 crimes being considered for the community court including: shoplifting, graffiti, reckless driving, prostitution, and public intoxication. City officials are accepting input until March 2nd via an online survey linked at the bottom of this post. If you want to have your voice heard on this issue, you are going to have to act fast.
This is an awesome opportunity to get involved with local judicial policy, and I think this is a great national trend to follow. Providing offenders who need treatment with access to support services not only keeps them out of jail, but also can help them change their lives proactively, decreasing the number of repeat offenders. I think that on a national level, a move toward community courts will help lower costs associated with jail time, increase community involvement with local judicial systems, and promote both individual and community health.
This system has the potential not only to positively change public safety, but also to support individuals previously involved with addiction, homelessness, theft, and illegal sex work make positive changes on a personal level. I view this as a positive step away from strict mandatory minimums and a system designed only to punish, towards restorative justice. Rehabilitation is crucial to make our communities safer and stronger, and in my view, the Eugene Community Court is a great first step in this direction.
The survey can be found here:Community Court Survey
For more information click here.