Aug 19, 2014

Center for Court Innovation expands online resources

Building on the Community Justice 2014 summit in San Francisco, the Center for Court Innovation has expanded its online resources, which now include the agenda and supplemental materials from the summit, along with an increasing number of podcast interviews with featured speakers.

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The following is a selection of available podcasts:

Gavin Newsom: Community Justice 2014
In keynote remarks at Community Justice 2014, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom draws a parallel between community justice and internet innovations like Craig's List and Uber, praising them for their the bottom-up, customized approaches to doing business.

After 5 Years, the San Francisco Community Justice Center Continues to Adapt
Judge Braden C. Woods of the San Francisco Community Justice Center discusses the practical implications of expanding the court's caseload to include low-level felonies, and he reflects on his first year on the job. 

Improving Outcomes by Assessing the Impact of Trauma on Offenders
Courts need to assess offenders for traumatic exposures so they can match them to effective services and improve treatment outcomes, says Kathleen West, an expert on trauma-informed care and lecturer at the University of California. In this New Thinking podcast, West discusses what we know about the impact of trauma on litigants and the justice system.

Click here to access all podcasts and other online materials.

Jun 11, 2014

Michigan Drug Court featured on NBC’s Dateline

Last Sunday, NBC’s Dateline featured Michigan’s Mercer County Drug Courts. The piece followed three individuals whose addictions brought them in front of Adult and Juvenile Drug Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski, known as "Scary Mary."

In an email statement, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals said of the program:

"While the story is a profile of just one of over 2,800 Drug Courts in the United States, it underscores two important issues critical to the public’s understanding of all Drug Courts. First, the individuals profiled in the piece, no matter their original charge, were given the option of Drug Court because they were assessed and shown to meet the clinical criteria for drug-dependence. Once they were admitted, the Drug Court team worked tirelessly to keep them in the program and deal with relapse and other issues that arose along the way."

Click here to view clips of the Dateline episode.

May 29, 2014

BHC featured in Mother Jones

Mother Jones published an article and video yesterday featuring the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court. The article – "Can Mental Health Courts Fix California's Prison Overcrowding?" – discusses how California's Three Strikes Law has "inadvertently resulted in the incarceration of a lot relatively harmless people, for a long time and at great public expense."



The statistics are staggering. Mentally ill inmates make up 45% of California's prison population. Mentally ill offenders also receive longer sentences than their non-mentally ill counterparts across all felonies.

"Once in prison, [mentally ill inmates'] illnesses go untreated, and the prison conditions exacerbate their behavioral symptoms. As a result, they are at greater risk of getting in trouble for breaking prison rules and being sanctioned with severe disciplinary measures, including solitary confinement—a vicious cycle that can make their symptoms even worse, getting them in even more trouble."

Citing their effectiveness and cost-savings, State Senator Darrell Steinberg and professors from Stanford Law School's Three Strikes project are calling for more investment in mental health courts. There are currently 40 mental health courts across 27 counties in California, including the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court.

The video was directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Kattie Galloway of Loteria Films.

May 28, 2014

SF kicks off Prevention & Family Recovery initiative

“The Court understands the impact of intergenerational poverty and drug addiction on the children served by Dependency Drug Court. This initiative will help the Court strengthen its partnerships and provide targeted services to nurture parent-child relationships and family stability.”
 Presiding Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee 

San Francisco was selected as one of four sites to receive a Doris Duke Foundation Prevention and Family Recovery (PFR) grant to enhance services for families participating in Dependency Drug Court (DDC). Representatives from San Francisco's multidisciplinary team attended the PFR Leadership Development kick-off meeting this month in Newport Beach, CA. 

L-R: Eden Woldemariam (Homeless Prenatal Program), Katie Best (HealthRIGHT 360), Sylvia Deporto (Human Services Agency), Lynn Dolce (Department of Public Health), Jennifer Pasinosky (Superior Court), Dora Miranda (Superior Court), Miriam Silverman (Infant Parent Program), Jill Gresham (Children & Family Futures), Hon. Linda Colfax (Superior Court), Theresa Lemus (Children and Family Futures) Not pictured: Kimberlee Pitters (Department of Public Health)

The PFR initiative is overseen by Children and Family Futures, a nonprofit leader in the field of Family Drug Courts. Through this grant, DDC will provide evidence-based in-home parenting education to all participating families with children 0-5 years old and implement a “One Family, One Plan” strategy to ensure parent, child, and family services are integrated and highly coordinated across systems.

DDC's efforts will build upon the Interagency Service Collaborative (iASC), San Francisco's response to the Katie A. settlement agreement in California, requiring county governments to "improve the provision of mental health and supportive services for children and youth in, or at imminent risk of placement in, foster care in California."

The PFR grant also includes intensive technical assistance and program evaluation to support systemic change, identify best practices, and disseminate findings to other Family Drug Courts across the country. The other three sites were Robeson County, NC, Tompkins County, NY, and Pima County, AZ.

DDC's partners are excited for the opportunity to provide enhanced parenting services and implement systemic changes that help strengthen families and support long-term success. The project implementation date is July 1, 2014.

Click here to view the Superior Court’s press release.