A celebration will be held this afternoon to mark the second anniversary of San Francisco’s Community Justice Center.

The facility, located in the 500 block of Polk Street in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood, serves as both a courtroom and social services center.

The court handles about 75 cases a day, primarily nonviolent felonies, misdemeanors and probation revocation cases from the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Union Square, and South of Market neighborhoods.

The social services center allows clients to address issues that may have led to their arrests or convictions. Services include drug treatment programs, housing and employment assistance, and mental and physical health programs.

It is not yet clear how much money the Community Justice Center is saving the city, but San Francisco Superior Court spokeswoman Ann Donlan said a recent study on another one of San Francisco’s collaborative courts, the Drug Court, found that it achieved significant savings in court costs and from reduced recidivism.

“We expect to see that replicated in the CJC,” Donlan said.

The center, which opened in March 2009, is holding an open house celebration from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today.

Mayor Ed Lee is scheduled to attend, as are San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Community Justice Center Commissioner Everett Hewlett Jr., and a graduate of the CJC program.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Matt Ghali

    The name of this program is stunningly Orwellian. This is the diametric opposite of justice.

    Every day, in an effort to cut costs, the SF DA’s office coerces and/or dupes 75 defendants into giving up their right to due process by consenting to a referral to the “Community Justice” center. There, your fate is up to a minimally-trained, unaccountable group of randomly selected “community members”.

    What about rules of evidence? No worry, they do not apply to this sort of justice. A defendant’s right to legal representation? Discouraged, actively- it is not clear if an attorney for the defendant is even allowed in the hearing. Is there an appeal process? I asked the director of the Community Justice program, and he wasn’t sure about that, either.

    The fact that a program like this is allowed to exist shocks me. That the DA and Public Defender’s office consented to this mockery is a complete abdication of responsibility. But hey! It might save money for the city; and that’s the important part, right?