There were 65 graduates of Redmond’s Community Court from its April 2018 launch date to July 30 this year, according to an outcomes report recently given to the King County Council. It was planned to be introduced during the Dec. 4 meeting.
About 19,361 people were confined in Washington, as of March 2019. According to the report, “community-led courts have emerged as a way of redirecting low-risk, high-need defendants away from the traditional court system and towards the systems and resources they need to avoid criminal behavior.”
The county has been using the community-court model to target repeat offenders who may have mental health needs or are in need of substance use treatment. The court provides offenders access to treatment, housing and other social services. Those who use the special court typically have committed misdemeanors related to life circumstances.
“By addressing the underlying determinants of crime, studies have found that adult misdemeanor offenders processed at community courts were significantly less likely to recidivate than those processed traditionally,” the report continues.
In 2017, King County was awarded the funding needed to plan two community courts.This planning included meeting with justice officials at state and city levels. The report states that Redmond was singled out due to the work already being done there. In 2017, a homelessness task force was completed, which laid the groundwork for the court.
“The task force illuminated challenges that the city faced due to deepening poverty, increased homelessness and a lack of adequate care for those with addiction and mental health issues,” the outcomes report states.
The document not only outlines the successes of the community court in Redmond — housed in its downtown library location — but also expands on the Burien Community Court and the possible community courts to come in Shoreline, Auburn and Bellevue. King County District Court is working with city partners, the report states, to add these courts in 2020.
On top of this, King County District Court is working to expand the types of cases that can be heard at community courts.