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.
Collaborative Justice Courts
Marin has implemented Adult Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Proposition 36 Court, STAR (Mental Health) Court and Family Violence Court. For more information
on these programs, please click on the links below.
The Marin Youth Court is an example of a restorative court program. For more information on Youth Court, please