Welcome to Seattle Community Court
Seattle Community Court is a community involved justice initiative that provides a nontraditional approach to address traditional problems. Rather than go to jail, non-violent misdemeanor offenders who enter the program can help themselves in overcoming their own problems as they complete community service to improve the neighborhood and make a variety of comprehensive social service linkages to help address the root and underlying issues of repeated criminal behavior.
A Collaborative Effort
A collaborative effort of the Seattle Municipal Court, Seattle City Attorney and the Associated Counsel for the Accused, Community Court takes a different approach to the chronic social, human and legal problems that are resistant to conventional solutions.
Community Court effectively addresses neighborhood livability problems, targeting quality of life crimes, while providing immediate defendant accountability to the community. Eligible defendants that "opt in" to the program are assigned community service hours at neighborhood-based sites. They are assessed for basic needs and required to make linkages with specific social services that help with homelessness, unemployment, education, mental health, and chemical dependency.
The problem-solving approach of community courts recognizes that individuals, as well as communities, can be victims of crime:
- Low-level, non-violent crimes are often committed by those with significant barriers, such as homelessness, unemployment and mental health or drug/alcohol problems.
- Therapeutic and restorative justice models have proven effective at reducing incident rates in other cities around the country.
- Community Court combines sanctions with immediate referral to comprehensive services.
"It's given me the opportunity to take a different avenue and utilize services I may not have otherwise had access to. Everyone was very nice & (we were) treated fair." - Community Court Participant
Community Court Honored By U.S. Department of Justice
Community Court was recently honored to be selected as one of three mentor court sites by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Community Court will serve as a role model to other jurisdictions seeking effective ways to combat such crimes as prostitution, public drinking, drug use, vandalism and other low-level crimes that affect the quality of life in city neighborhoods. The non-profit Center for Court Innovation will oversee the Community Court Mentor Site Network, which also includes Dallas and Hartford.
The mentor courts will serve as a peer network, supporting the Center for Court Innovation in advancing the community court model, said Kim Norris, a senior policy advisor for adjudication at the Bureau of Justice Assistance. By selecting high-quality programs in various parts of the U.S., we hope to make it easier for interested jurisdictions to make site visits and see a community court at work.