Superior Court of San Joaquin County Holds First
Homeless Court Session
On Friday, January 27, 2006, the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin held its first Homeless Court Session at St. Mary's Interfaith Community Services. The first Homeless Court calendar served a total of 7 defendants and resolved a total of 29 cases. Homeless Court for this county was spearheaded by the Hon. Barbara A. Kronlund and modeled after the nationally acclaimed and award winning Homeless Court Program from the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego.
The homeless population is not making it to their court appearances. Homeless Court allows these individuals to clear their failure to appear citations and warrants and obtain driver's licenses becoming more employable. They would not have to "hide" from the law anymore and eventually can become tax paying citizens. What is unique about Homeless Court is that if offers the homeless an opportunity to attend court on-site at a homeless facility to take care of specific types of cases without threat of incarceration. Instead of receiving jail sentences and fines as punishment, they serve their sentences with community service and in programs such as substance abuse and mental health treatment.
"I am very pleased that we can offer our homeless community this opportunity and to bring justice to them in a familiar, non-threatening environment, said Barbara A. Kronlund, Judge presiding over Homeless Court. Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, Richard Guiliani said, "This is a long overdue move away from the criminalization of individuals who may suffer from mental illness, substance abuse or some unfortunate event in their lives. Judge Kronlund deserves most of the credit for bringing this idea to fruition and we expect that this will provide a valuable service to a segment of our community that needs all the help they can get."
The creation of our local homeless court was truly a collaborative effort. Many individuals and local agencies made this special court program possible. Jim Larson, the San Joaquin County Public Defender has taken the lead role, with the cooperation of the Stockton City Attorney's Office and the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office. University of the Pacific is partnering to make the court a success along with the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless and St. Mary's Interfaith Community Services.