Eugene’s Community Court is a place for connections and second chances. Based on national models, Community Court launched in Eugene in June 2016 with a 2-year grant from the Center for Court Innovation. Community Court has created an alternative to the traditional justice system, offering new paths for people to access services and helping frequent offenders with their underlying needs. Over the last two years, this voluntary program has served 373 participants, and 173 people have graduated and had their case dismissed.
One of Community Court’s key goals is to reduce re-offending. After the first year, 91% of Community Court graduates have no new charges in downtown Eugene, and 79% of graduates have had no new offenses anywhere in Oregon. By connecting non-violent offenders cited in Downtown Eugene with social service providers, Community Court is helping community members get out of the criminal justice system.
Community Court is open every Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Downtown Public Library. Services are available starting at 11 a.m. In addition to serving people who have been cited for misdemeanors in downtown, Community Court makes services available to anyone who comes in and over 1,800 people have taken advantage of this opportunity. The program relies heavily on volunteers and has recorded over 2,300 volunteer hours.
Participants Give Back to the Community
Giving back to the community is a central focus of the Community Court model, and participants completed a total of 1,620 hours of community restoration work since the court’s inception. The Court has developed strong partnerships with other agencies; partners in providing opportunities for community restoration work include:
- City of Eugene Facilities
- Eugene Springfield Fire
- City of Eugene Recreation
- Downtown Eugene, Inc.
- HIV Alliance
- Food for Lane County
- Planned Parenthood
- The Dining Room
Independent Impact Evaluation
Now that the program has been in place for two years, the City will begin working with a third party research group to conduct an independent impact evaluation. Data from the analysis will help inform Community Court’s successes as well as areas that have room to grow.
Program Extended with Temporary Funding
With the completion of the grant funding, temporary funding for Community Court has been included in the 18-month Community Safety funding that will bridge from January 2019 until more permanent funding is identified. Community Court has proved to be a valuable service to our community and it is exciting to see what new partnerships will develop to further help our community members stabilize their lives.