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