The Alameda County Collaborative Courts are premised on the recognition that many clients become involved in the justice system as a result of unmet needs.
The Collaborative Courts are designed to provide clients with an array of services and address clients’ civil and legal needs in an environment that is less daunting and adversarial than the traditional court setting. In Collaborative Courts, the Public Defender’s Office works with the District Attorney, the Court, Probation and other partners and community-based organizations to provide alternatives to incarceration and focus on the specific needs and circumstances of particularly vulnerable clients. These services can include intensive case management, mental health treatment, medication, support from educational specialists, social workers, and more.
Some Collaborative Courts include:
- Parole Re-entry Court
- Drug Court
- Homeless and Caring Court
- Juvenile Girls Court
- Veterans Treatment Court
You can learn more about each of these, below.
Parole Renentry Court
The Parole Reentry Court is designed to meet the needs of high-risk parolees who are in violation status, with the goal of reducing recidivism and re-offense rates. The reentry court integrates evidence-based treatment practices to address substance abuse and/or mental health problems, in addition to providing wraparound social services to parolees.
The Parole Reentry Court has a collaborative team approach that includes a regularly assigned Judge, Public Defender and District Attorney, along with Parole Agents and Case Managers. The team meets on a weekly basis to discuss cases before the court date. Enhanced monitoring of the parolees by the Case Managers and Parole Agents, along with regularly scheduled court dates for the parolee where they meets with the entire reentry team aids in the goal of reducing recidivism, thus promoting public safety.
Drug Court offers an alternative to jail for defendants charged with certain drug offenses. Unlike most criminal courts, it is run in a collaborative manner, which means that the judge, district attorney, Public Defender and probation officer all work closely together to assess your needs and develop a treatment plan designed to help you improve your situation.
Over 12-18 months, they will work with you to ensure that you reach your goals. Studies have consistently shown that this approach helps people afflicted with substance abuse return to a productive life, while at the same time, reducing the rate of recidivism.
You qualify for Drug Court if you have a non-violent drug possession offense pending against you. Drug Court services are available pre-plea or post-conviction, depending on your criminal history. Each program has its own set of eligibility requirements. Your Public Defender can tell you which program you qualify for.
If you successfully complete a treatment program, your conviction may be set aside and the charges dismissed.
Homeless and Caring Court
The Homeless and Caring Court is an alternative to the traditional criminal justice court system; sessions are held in non-threatening community centers rather than the traditional courtroom. Homeless and Caring Court removes barriers to integrating back into society by resolving non-violent, minor misdemeanor cases and traffic infractions for the homeless and formerly homeless.
The court session is focused on the homeless and formerly homeless and assembles every other month to resolve individuals’ traffic infractions and non-violent minor misdemeanor cases. The court strives to resolve matters that have created barriers to the homeless from integrating back into society.
Clients are referred to the Homeless and Caring Court through homeless service providers and must apply for the program well in advance of the court date. Potential participants must prove that they have made progress towards attaining stability, which is defined on an individual basis.
Before the scheduled court date, the Public Defender meets with each client to assess their individual progress and to determine what matters can be resolved through the Homeless and Caring Court. On the scheduled court date, the Public Defender appears with each client and makes a presentation to the court demonstrating how the client has progressed since the client was originally charged with the offense, ticket, or fine. The goal is for the client to walk away from court with these obstacles removed so that they can move forward with their lives.
Juvenile Girls Court
The Girls’ Court was created in 2011, recognizing that young women in Alameda County have unique circumstances that bring them into the juvenile justice system. The Girls’ Court is a collaborative effort between the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney, the bench, Social Services, Probation, and a number of community-based organizations.
The mission of the Girls’ Court is to provide a non-adversarial, trauma-informed courtroom that is focused on addressing the trauma, healing, and empowerment of young women through comprehensive case plans that address each young woman’s unique challenges.
In addition to Girls’ Court, the Young Women’s Saturday Program, the Gender-Responsive Task Force, and Safety Net are all initiatives that have been created to determine how to best serve our young women.
The Public Defender’s Office plays a unique role in ensuring that the individual rights of these young women are protected and that their voices, wishes, wants and concerns are heard.
Veterans Treatment Court
Established in 2013 in collaboration with the District Attorney, Court, Probation, Sheriff, Behavioral Health Care, and the Veterans Legal Task Force for veterans who suffer from service-related substance abuse and mental health issues.
Clients are assigned a mentor and a treatment plan based on their specific needs, which may include drug treatment, mental health counseling, job training, schooling and more.
Most programs last 18 months, after which, probation may be terminated, a felony offense may be reduced to a misdemeanor, or a guilty plea may be withdrawn.