January 4, 2019

The rise of community courts

US News -The U.S. has the highest prison population rate in the world: 716 per 100,000 people, as of 2015. In 2017 the nation had 2.2 million people in prison or jail. County and city jails held 740,700 inmates at midyear 2016, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Community court is a holistic take on specialized courts – also trending – aimed at mental health, drug, and other quality-of-life issues. All are designed to keep out of jail people who shouldn't be there because the greatest harm they cause is to themselves.

Five jurisdictions freshly seeded with $200,000 federal grants are bringing the number of U.S. community courts to about 70: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Nashville General Sessions Court; Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts; and municipal courts in Puyallup, Washington, and Reno, Nevada.
Community courts can be found around the world in cities including Be'er Sheva, Israel; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Cape Town, South Africa.

Instead of doing time, offenders do community service for restitution. Judges order them to attend and complete rehabilitation, therapeutic and educational programs. Over months and sometimes years, they learn they're not in it alone, and that they have neighbors with money and influence who invest in them.

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