Phone: (415) 444-7020
Location: Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room 116
Office Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm
The Court is committed to working with criminal justice, social service, alcohol and drug, and mental health partners to address some of the underlying causes of and recidivism related to criminal behavior in adults and juveniles. Criminal justice research on both the national and local levels has documented the challenges facing the criminal justice system when only punitive approaches are used to curtail criminal behavior. The research indicates that traditional criminal justice sentencing and probation strategies are often not effective with adult defendants and juvenile offenders who have underlying drug and alcohol problems, mental illness and behavioral disorders. Collaborative justice, also called therapeutic and problem solving courts, have been in operation in many parts of the country and California for more than a decade and have achieved some impressive results in identifying and resolving the underlying issues that often lead to criminal behavior. Through intensive monitoring of adult defendants and juveniles, they are often able to resolve their personal issues and are restored to leading law abiding lives. All therapeutic courts in Marin are 'post plea', meaning that defendants have to plead guilty before being admitted to the therapeutic court program to serve their probationary periods.
As the name suggests, collaborative justice courts are designed using a collaborative or "team" approach. These programs have as their primary focus the offender, rather than victims or community. They are collaborative in that the programs set aside the adversarial processes of the traditional system, and allow defense attorneys, district attorneys, probation officers and treatment staff to work together to supervise program participants' behavior. While the judicial officer makes the final determination on what will happen in a given case, the "team" has more significant input than in a traditional system, and the expectation is that the collaboration of this group will lead to more effective decisions to assist an offender in making lasting changes in behavior. Team members strategize about how to provide more monitoring, support and services to these defendants to ensure that they comply with the terms of their probation and fulfill all therapeutic requirements of the program such as attendance at drug and alcohol programs, drug testing, regular medication monitoring, participation in batterers' programs and other activities designed to assist these individuals in establishing healthy, productive, law abiding lives.
The philosophy of restorative justice acknowledges that crime injures victims and their families, offenders and their families, and communities. Restorative courts seek to "repair the harm" caused by the crime. Restorative justice is based on principles of offender accountability to victims and community protection. Restorative practices have been proven to be effective with youthful offenders, since the nature of these crimes is often less serious than crimes committed by adult offenders. Youth courts are in operation across the country and these courts are growing in popularity.