Collaborative Courts Programs

San Francisco Collaborative CourtsSan Francisco’s Collaborative Courts are a multi-agency problem-solving approach to specific drivers of criminal activity. These programs are a collaboration of the District Attorney’s Office, Superior Court, Public Defender’s Office, Adult Probation Department, Department of Public Health, Sheriff’s Department, and community treatment providers. All programs are voluntary.

Behavioral Health Court (BHC) 

Addresses the complex needs of mentally ill defendants, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders. An individualized treatment plan is developed which includes psychiatric rehabilitation services, medication management, supportive living arrangements, substance abuse treatment, supported employment, and intensive case management services. BHC received the 2008 Council on Mentally Ill Offenders Best Practices Award.

Community Justice Center (CJC) 

A Court and Service Center that serves the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and SOMA neighborhoods. The CJC offers defendants the opportunity to quickly access social service referrals for substance abuse, mental health, and primary care because staff is available in the same building as the court. Restorative justice projects allow participants to give back to the community. In partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH), services at the CJC are available for all residents who live in the CJC area.

Drug Court (DC) 

Provides an intensive supervision case management program for non-violent offenders with substantial substance abuse problems. When a participant successfully completes Drug Court, generally after 10-24 months, probation is terminated or charges may be dismissed. Drug Court has its own treatment clinic and is supported by state funding through DPH.

Intensive Supervision Court (ISC) 

A voluntary court-based probation supervision program spearheaded by the Adult Probation Department. The target population is high-risk, high needs probationers who are facing a state prison commitment as a result of probation violations.

Veterans Justice Court (VJC)

A Court at the Hall of Justice addresses the full range of issues confronting military service veterans: substance abuse, mental health disabilities (including post-traumatic stress disorder), homelessness and unemployment. In partnership with the Veterans Administration, DPH and other agencies, VJC provides treatment, counseling, social service support and academic and vocational skill training.

Young Adult Court (YAC)

Over the last decade significant research findings have transformed our recognition of how we need to work with young adults. Advances in neuroscience have begun to inform new program models – from the justice system to mental health to housing – that are aligned with young adult brain development. Simultaneously, our understanding of the impact of trauma and toxic stress on brains, bodies, and life trajectories has stimulated city agencies and nonprofit organizations to infuse “trauma-informed” approaches into our service models. For young adults the effects of trauma at their developmental stage are unique and extreme – a toxic combination far greater than the sum of its parts.

Beginning in August 2015 San Francisco launched our Young Adult Court (YAC), a collaborative court for young adults aged 18-25 facing a wide range of offenses, including violent and nonviolent felonies. The YAC team – which includes the Superior Court, District Attorney, Public Defender, Adult Probation Department, and nonprofit partners Family Service Agency and Goodwill Industries – has worked collectively to develop a unique program model that is both developmentally- and trauma-informed. Each YAC participant is assigned to a specially-trained clinician, who collaborates with the entire YAC team to engage, motivate, and support the participant to stabilize his/her transformation into adulthood and reduce recidivism.  Still in its pilot period with a capacity of 70 cases, the YAC Program has been overwhelmed by sheer demand. YAC leverages specialized young adult resources including Adult Probation’s Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Unit, the District Attorney’s Alternative Sentencing Planner Program (ASP), the Public Health’s TAY Division, and the Sheriff’s in-custody TAY services. An independent researcher is currently evaluating the Program.

YAC Fact Sheet 

San Francisco Superior Court YAC page 

Read more national coverage about the YAC:

A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science

Neuroscience Is Changing the Debate Over What Role Age Should Play in the Courts 

Too young for jail: why it makes sense to raise the age of juvenile courts

Changing the Life Trajectory of Justice-Involved Young Adults in San Francisco 

Programs and Legislation Targeting Justice-Involved Youth

Pioneers in Young Adult Justice