A successful debut for Shoreline Community Court

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Court is in session

Text and photos by Jamie Holter

It was a packed house at Shoreline City Hall on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 1:30pm for the debut of Shoreline Community Court, a court that holds low-level offenders accountable and connects them to the support and resources they need to move in a new, non-justice-involved direction. 

Judge Campagna explains the terms

All six offenders scheduled before District Court Judge Campagna were there. They were young and old, white and people of color, male and female. Judge Campagna explained how community court works and asked each defendant if they’d like to participate. Several expressed an interest in the option.

Saying yes means they get a needs assessment and sign a contract with the court. If they meet the contract requirements, charges are dismissed.

Friendly volunteers escort the defendants
who choose the support services

Nearly 30 people – volunteers, resource providers, and friendly and supportive faces – filled the seats of council-chambers-turned-courtroom. Volunteers helped the defendants make their way to an assessor who spends confidential 30 minutes with them to identify their needs – mental health counseling, drug counseling, transportation support, housing, food stamps – then the volunteer walks them to the resources in the foyer of city hall.

Defendants get their turn with the judge
and court personnel 

A defendant, who did not want to give his name, was emotional as he talked about what this new process meant for him.

“This is the one of the better experiences I have had in the court system. The resources are here and right away. The structure, the comfortable atmosphere… it’s exactly what I need. It’s been a long time coming. I am impressed with this. 
"This is the first time in my life where I am getting outside help. I am used to being left out. For once in my life, I feel like I have some hope and some direction.”

This court runs every week on Tuesdays from 1:30 – 3:30pm. The resources center in the City Hall foyer is available to all residents, not just those involved with the justice system. The city is posting which organizations are on site each week.


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