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.
- Youth Court
The Youth Transforming Justice Youth Court is an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system. The Youth Court’s transformative power is derived from its non-adversarial, peer-to-peer restorative practices. Based on the principles of restorative justice Youth Court empowers youth to take an active role in addressing and supporting their peers when they have acknowledged accountability for breaking the law. The goal of restorative justice is to repair the harm done, the relationships impacted, and provide the young person with increased skills so they may reengage the community as a more reflective and wiser person.
Diverting over a thousand youth since its inception in 2004, Youth Court is on the forefront of mitigating the school-to-prison pipeline by using restorative practices that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system. This innovative program has a 95% completion rate and successful completion of the program can remove their juvenile record.
The Marin County Youth Court is administered by the Youth Transforming Justice nonprofit in collaboration with the Superior Court, District Attorney's Office, Office of the Public Defender, Probation Department, Marin County Bar Association and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission among other county, statewide, and national partners.
Under the leadership of Don Carney, Youth Transforming Justice, Marin Youth Court has become a strong and sustainable program.
- Adult Drug Court
The mission of the Marin County Adult Drug Court is to improve lives that have been impacted by substance use, and to increase public safety by reducing the amount and frequency of drug related crime. The Court aims to reduce criminal recidivism by facilitating treatment and rehabilitation. The Court provides increased supervision to individuals with a substance use disorder involved in the criminal justice system, thereby returning individuals to the community better equipped to maintain their recovery and not engage in further criminal behavior.
The Adult Drug Court Team includes a judicial officer, probation officer, deputy district attorney, deputy public defender, and treatment providers who provide clinical assessments and drug and counseling services.
Participants in the Adult Drug Court are required to meet regularly with a probation officer, case manager, and assessment specialist. Participants engage in self-help meetings and substance use treatment. Participants shall submit to urine analysis tests whenever ordered to do so and shall make regular court appearances. The program consists of 4 phases, each with its own set of legal, housing, vocational, and treatment requirements. The program typically takes about 12 months to complete successfully. When a participant graduates from the Adult Drug Court he or she may have drug related charges(s) dismissed, reduced, jail sentence stayed and/or probation terminated.
For a description of Adult Drug Court, how the program works and what is required of participants, please click here to see the Adult Drug Court participant brochure.
To obtain further information, please contact Dr. Suz Mitchell at Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services at (415) 473-2543.
- STAR (Mental Health) Court
Support and Treatment After Release (STAR) Court
STAR Court is a court-supervised program for defendants who have serious mental illnesses, which require medication, treatment and other services, and who choose to participate in STAR Court as an alternative to traditional supervised probation. The goal of STAR Court is to decrease the frequency of clients' contacts with the criminal justice system by improving their social functioning skills and by linking them to employment, housing, regular treatment, and support services.
STAR Court works in collaboration with Marin County's STAR Program, which is a full service partnership providing culturally competent, intensive, integrated services to mentally ill offenders. Clients typically must first be in the STAR Court before they become eligible to participate in the STAR Program.
The STAR Court Team includes a Judicial Officer, Probation Officer, Deputy District Attorney, Deputy Public Defender, STAR Program Supervisor, Forensic-Clinical Psychologist, Social Workers, Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatrist, Family Liaison, Marin County Sheriff Re-entry Team Deputy, Therapists, Peer Support Staff, and a Vocational Consultant.
Clients must sign an agreement to abide by the rules of STAR Court and the individual treatment plan developed by the STAR Court Team. Typical agreements require participants to attend regular court sessions; take prescribed medications faithfully; meet with a social worker regularly; lead law abiding lives; participate in treatment plans; and, comply with the STAR Court Team's directives. When a participant graduates from STAR Court, he or she may have the underlying case reduced or dismissed and probation terminated.
STAR Court consists of 3 phases (typically 6-months per phase), each with a set of legal, housing, vocational, and treatment components. The program takes an average of 18 months to complete successfully. When participants successfully graduate from the STAR Court, they may have their misdemeanor-related case dismissed, jail sentences stayed and/or and probation terminated.
To obtain further information, please contact the Probation Department at 415-473-6599.
- Veterans Treatment Court
The mission of the Marin County Veterans Treatment Court is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of individuals who have served in the military who are charged with criminal offenses and suffer from substance abuse disorder and/or serious mental illness by connecting these individuals with community treatment services, and to find appropriate dispositions to the criminal charges by considering the individual's clinical needs and nature of the offense.
The primary goals of Marin Veterans Treatment Court are to:
- Connect military veterans charged with criminal offenses who suffer from substance abuse disorder and/or mental illness to treatment services in the community.
- Find appropriate dispositions to criminal charges, taking into consideration the facts of each case and prior criminal history, in accordance with VJC eligibility guidelines.
- Ensure public safety and reduce recidivism and violence through appropriate mental health treatment and intensive supervision.
- Increase collaboration between the court, counsel, city agencies, and community mental health treatment services.
To obtain further information, please contact the Clerk's Office at (415) 444-7020 .