Homeless Court Does Away With Jail
San Diego has a court for the homeless where violators get a handshake intstead of jail time. The court is viewed as a model for the country and has been earning praise from all quarters.
Homeless court is now in session at the St. Vincent de Paul shelter. The bailiff is armed but the public defender tries to put everyone at ease: "There's one assurance," he tells them, "nobody goes into custody today."
Launched at the request of homeless veterans 15 years ago, the program has grown into a model for cities across California and beyond that want to help the homeless resolve misdemeanor offenses which can make them ineligible for government aid or drivers' licenses - a major barrier to normal life.
"We can just see the snowball effect of a warrant, a traffic ticket, a fine," says Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco, who presides over a new homeless court in Northern California's Alameda County. "You can't pay a fine if you don't have any money; you can't give a probation officer an address if you don't have a home."
This is the feel-good article of the day. Enjoy it.
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