Community Justice Center’s caseload growing 

The number of low-level criminal cases moving through the Community Justice Center each month is expected to double this year, city officials said Tuesday.

Since the center opened last March, it has heard the cases of 2,161 defendants and assisted more than 860 clients with social services like substance abuse treatment, education and housing, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Gavin Newsom attended an informal roundtable event Tuesday with clients at the Community Justice Center, marking the progress of the 1-year-old program, which targets and assists low-level criminals while holding them accountable for their crimes.

The caseloads are only going to increase, said Tomiquia Moss, coordinator for the Community Justice Center. In the next six months, the center is expected to receive 400 new cases per month, up from an average of 222 cases today, Moss said.

“We are trying to work with as many clients as we can,” Moss said. “It’s going to be really important for us to utilize resources effectively and efficiently.”

The average appearance rate for center clients is 73 percent. In courtrooms, just 20 percent of defendants charged with low-level crimes appear in court, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Newsom used the roundtable discussion as a chance to tout the advantages of restorative justice and a community justice centers like San Francisco’s. The City’s center was modeled after New York City’s Mid-Town Manhattan Court, which is credited with reducing crime and saving money, Newsom said.

“It’s getting people out of the revolving door of the system,” he told people at the center, some of whom have been in and out of jail for the past two decades.

The Community Justice Center currently services the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Union Square and South of Market neighborhoods. Newsom said he hopes to expand the program soon to other parts of The City.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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