Neighborhood Court Expands to Evenings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2013

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 of (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISCO – District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Neighborhood Court, an initiative he launched two years ago as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process, is expanding to evenings. The Southern Neighborhood Court’s monthly night court will begin this Thursday at the Eucharist Church, 285 Main Street. 6 to 8pm.

“The success of Neighborhood Court can be attributed to the volunteer adjudicators who play a principle role in the safety and vitality of their neighborhoods,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Due to an increase in cases, members of San Francisco’s communities requested expanded hours to increase participant and community participation. The expansion to night court ensures Neighborhood Court’s continued success.”

District Attorney Gascón designed Neighborhood Courts to achieve four primary goals: efficient case resolution, community-driven solutions, reduced burden on criminal courts, and reduced recidivism. Instead of charging cases for criminal prosecution, the District Attorney’s Office through its Neighborhood Prosecutors refers certain misdemeanor and infraction cases to Neighborhood Court, and a panel of volunteer “adjudicators” hears the case.

Neighborhood Court participants can have their case heard within a couple of weeks compared to the traditional court process that can take anywhere from one to nine months to complete, saving both time and money. Neighborhood Court cases cost approximately $850 per case to resolve, compared to over $1,500 if sent to the criminal justice system. Last year, $330,000 was saved by sending misdemeanor cases to Neighborhood Court.

There are ten Neighborhood Courts across the city with over 100 adjudicators. In 2012 the District Attorney’s Office sent over 700 cases to Neighborhood Court. Neighborhood Courts is a partnership between the District Attorney’s Office, Community Boards, and Pre-trial Diversion. The program has been replicated by Yolo County and studied for replication by Santa Barbara County. For more information about Neighborhood Court, go to www.sfdistrictattorney.org.

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