In an effort to reduce costly jail sentences, the city of Eugene is planning to establish a Community Court for certain offenses. City officials are asking residents to help choose which low-level crimes should be routed through the new system.
Eugene Municipal Court Administrator Cheryl Stone became interested in this court model while doing research on high rates of failure to appear and recidivism. She asked herself this question:
Stone: "How could we decrease the number of cases we were seeing in terms of improving the outcomes."
Community Courts are responsive, says Stone. They are designed to match the needs of an offender with the appropriate sentence. And, when necessary, connect people to resources.
Stone: "An individual may need drug and alcohol treatment or maybe need help with housing or perhaps they just need a better understanding of restorative justice."
Twenty offenses are under consideration for the court. Public Drinking, Reckless Driving and sleeping on public property are a few.
Stone says the ideal Community Court would have the same judge on the bench to assure accountability. She says over 400 people have responded to an online survey. Residents have until March 2nd to give their input.