Justice Initiative Uses Support And Care Approach For Minor Offenders

Oct 7, 2016

An initiative to help low-level offenders in Eugene get help instead of jail time is celebrating its first month, and graduate.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports. 

Administrators of the Community Court prepare for the next session at the Eugene Public Library.
Credit Brian Bull

Launched last month, the Community Court offers social services for those who’ve been cited or simply need help getting off the streets.  

Eugene's bus terminal, where minor offender "Michael" was cited, then brought to the Community Court. He says it's really helped him.
Credit Brian Bull

One such person – whom we’ll call by his first name --  graduates today.  “Michael” was unemployed and homeless.  He was cited with criminal trespass at the bus terminal.

“I’ve gotten a job out of this opportunity, got plugged into the Goodwills and some other community services that are out there," Michael tells KLCC.

"It’s really working with me to be able to get me back on my feet and help me strive to be a better person.” 

Judge Wayne Allen presides over the Community Court. He says many who appear before him were once productive members of their community.

“Then one or two events would cause them to lose their employment, then the downward spiral to homelessness, and then the drug and alcohol that go with that," explains Judge Allen.  

" So the impetus is to help people.” 

Judge Wayne Allen, outside the Community Court in the Eugene Public Library.
Credit Brian Bull

A prosecutor says a community court in Spokane has alleviated crime and homelessness in that city.    

Eugene’s court is supported by a 2-year, $200,000 federal grant.  It’s held Fridays at the Eugene Public Library.