Community Court - City of Puyallup
- Terra Moulton, Assistant City Attorney, City of Puyallup - TMoulton@ci.puyallup.wa.us
- Awarded federal grant to greatly expand program
- Trying to reach out and better serve our participants.
- Community Court
- A problem solving court – try to identify hardships folks face and work to help them overcome them
- Community engagement is an important part – it is good for the community and the person – they can still contribute to society
- Hopefully having a leg up keeps folks out of the system
- One of 5 community courts getting the grant.
- Work towards procedural justice – make sure everyone can be heard
- Reduces incarceration and jail time – use alternative option that include social service
- Reduce crime, recidivism, and increase trust in the justice system
- Goal is to not see them in court again (I’m guessing that is one of their goals as well –ed.)
- 6 guiding principles – started in NY in 1993 – grant is from the folks that started those courts
- Enhanced information – educate staff with how to address issues that folks are facing – mental health and chemical dependency, as well as trauma, cultural competency and bias in the court system. Also a focus on procedural justice – make sure folks are heard (turns out treating folks with dignity and respect works really well - more reading about procedural justice at https://trustandjustice.org/resources/intervention/procedural-justice -ed.)
- Community engagement – actively reach out to community members and ask for input. We allow them to assist in court, allow neighborhoods to prioritize local problem. Engaging community groups.
- Collaboration – justice system is very adversarial. It is a negotiation for each side. This program is designed with everyone talking to each other – everyone is open and honest about what folks are facing when they come to court – where they have been successful and what they need to work on. Idea is not to be combative. Brining in other community players – have hired a case manager to support folks – want a place for service providers to better support folks participating in the program and the community.
- Individual justice outcomes – sentencing alternatives – video from Judge Pratt - Community Court – Newark numicipal court (I’m not sure the video she was trying to show, but I like this TED talk of hers - https://www.ted.com/talks/victoria_pratt_how_judges_can_show_respect -ed). Emphasizes that folks feel comfortable and heard and respected. Community court is designed to solve problems – find out why they are in a situation and help them get out of it. – chemical treatment, job services, mental health services – what they need. Also need to do community service – be accountable and give back to the community. We modeled it after a mental health program. It is a 2 year program. We are moving towards evidence based risk needs assessment to get to know the participants needs – so we know how intense the intervention needs to be. Someone with lots of support shouldn’t be taken away from those supports to do things for the court. Tailoring specifically to what folks need – and having the right amount of supervision.
- Accountability – connect with community members. Often feedback to community courts is that the criminal behavior isn’t being addressed. We work to reconnect folks for the long term – they have community restitution minimums, but also GED classes and such. With Community Courts – a sanction or reward for success happens very quickly. For first 4 weeks, participant comes to court each week – successes celebrated and issues cause immediate sanctions. We use essays where folks can describe what triggered a relapse, or future plans, or how to reunify with kids. Use community service and daily reporting to keep folks involved in positive things, not jail.
- (I sort of missed a guiding principle, and thought I had the powerpoint they used, but now can’t find it – sorry. –ed.)
- Reduce incarceration – save costs and give back to the community with community service hours – working with public works on projects. Weill closely monitor outcomes for the community and for the individuals.
- Participant Stories (I loved this part –ed.)
- Gal came who was 23 years old. Had 2 criminal charges – 1 DUI and one under the influence. She was falling under the control of someone who was encouraging her to use meth. She was losing connection with her family, hanging with Spent $12k on this man. has had no other violations. She is now employed, almost has GED, and is a different person from when she arrived.
- Man – over 5 years, had over 10 police contacts – 6 criminal charges in 2017 – most drug and alcohol related. Joined community court program in 2018. Clean and sober for over 7 months. is supporting mother and brother’s young child. Is proud to be working and there to support his family. He comes to court and cheers everyone up. Will graduate in February , but may graduate early as he is so stellar
- An older man was in for a displaying weapons charge – had no criminal history for20 years. He was out in the community, walking around, picking up cans, and a woman and a young child made rude comments about him and felt threatened, and displayed a knife and pepper spray. He sas in ongoing mental health treatment – but his meds were not controlled. He was coming in every week even when he didn’t need to – needed folks in his life who were being nice to him. Just graduated in November. His parting words were that he appreciated people “being so nice to him” in court.
- Need some help – contact infor in in here – community court is every Thursday at 3pm
- Judge Andrea Beall
- All the resources we provide are available to all
- Service Fair – want to fill our courtroom with what is available to support folks.
- Complete our 10 minute on-line survey (not quite ready yet, if I remember right –ed).
- We lose folks when they need to connect to a housing agency or when they need a drug and alcohol screen. We want there to be something right there to help them. Want to be a resource for them
- Court room is open any time.
- Want providers in house weekly - not everyone needs to commit to weekly – if you came once a month, that would be good too. We want whatever level of engagement
- Don – transitional housing – help folks connect back with their families. We are looking for partnerships – we are looking for partnership opportunities. Andrea – that would be great.
- Andrea – our new case manager will be a different look than probation – they will do more outreach and connecting. Case manager starts next week.
- Al – you identified resources that clients need. What resources are in the shortest supplies? What solutions have you developed in those situations. Answer - We are lucky to have Multicare – with both chemical dependency and mental health options – with Medicaid at no or low cost. It can take a while to get an initial appointment – that is our biggest bump in the road. Will be bringing chemical dependency and mental health into the court. There aren’t a lot of low cost treatment options.
- Al – Housing? Andrea- yes, that is in short supply. Most aren’t homeless, but some couch surf or use freezing nights. We want to put them in touch with housing resources or job training.
- Questions - Do you serve only for folks arrested and convicted in Puyallup? Andrea – anyone can come in on a Thursday to access the services. There is more accountability for some folks – you must access them – if you are in the court.
- Question - Anything for pregnant women. We have Step-by-step – very local, we connect them up with them. Helping Hand house may be a partner as well.
- Mitch – I’ve worked with judges up and down the corridor – it is only at the Puyallup court where they were doing a form of treatment – it wasn’t punitive. I really appreciate both of you – the way you’ve reached out over the years to ask about programs. Thank you collectively from the community. No one forced you to do this – thank for doing this (clapping)
- Patty – how do you decide who goes in the court? Terra – we try to make ours as broad as possible – we can’t serve violent felony history – other than that, the only cases we don’t take to court are the driving offenses or Domestic Violence, because of the power dynamics. We do recognize that folks with substance additions – you can’t say they aren’t going to use again – we do focus on treatment. As long as people come to court and tell the truth, we will continue to work with them. After treatment, sanctions may occur for lapses – which may just mean they need a longer treatment option. A recent patient was relapsing – so we put her in custody until her treatment date. Even if folks aren’t ready to make the changes, they can always opt in again (giving people opportunity after opportunity is such a healthy thing –ed.).
- Terra - If you comply and graduate, you leave with no conviction.
- Question – I think you guys are doing a great job. People need support after they exit. Terra – we only have jurisdiction over folks for so long. Our new case manager will help folks put together an exit plan. We work to help them build a support structure – we encourage if it is safe,- to bring family members into the court and into their lives. We work to help them build relationships and ties that can help them be stable. People can come back any time – people can choose more engagement – weekly visits instead of monthly, for instance. We work with folks as much as we can, but we need connections with community partners to extend our reach
- Question - some of the things you are doing remind me of the participatory defense programs. No one from Numbers to Names is here, but they do a lot of good work. Are there resources for families currently incarcerates. Terra – not yet – we are in the development phase. No program for families. Theresa – something that can help families know how to navigate the system would be helpful. Terra – have families come to court, that helps them to stay in touch and know what is going on.