Posted: Sep 23, 2012 9:05 AM
Updated: Sep 23, 2012 9:06 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Dozens of special community courts have popped up around the country to confront low-level offenses like illegal street vending and public drunkenness. And new research suggests they're helping stem crime.
These courts, in 14 states including California, Texas and New York, often make defendants do community service in the crime-plagued neighborhoods where they committed an offense. Rather than giving lawbreakers time in jail or fines, the courts connect them to group therapy, drug treatment and shelters.
Proponents say this model saves money and helps break the cycle of crime. San Francisco's court took the model a step further by taking more serious cases like felony drug offenses and vehicle theft.
An evaluation of a Washington, D.C., community court found that defendants who completed its programming were half as likely to reoffend as their counterparts in a regular court.