San Francisco’s district attorney announced today that his neighborhood courts initiative is expanding to offer hearings during the evening hours.
District Attorney George Gascon launched the neighborhood courts initiative two years ago to seek restorative rather than punitive solutions to certain low-level, nonviolent crimes in the city.
There are 10 neighborhood courts across the city that heard more than 700 cases in 2012, according to the district attorney’s office.
The cases cost an average of about $850 to resolve, compared to more than $1,500 in the criminal justice system, and often take only a couple weeks to be heard, rather than several months in a regular court, according to the district attorney’s office.
In the neighborhood courts, overseen by prosecutors, a panel of trained volunteer adjudicators handle cases like vandalism, disorderly conduct or minor thefts, with resolutions often involving agreements for community service or work with the victim.
The evening hours will start in the Southern District, with the possibility of expanding to other neighborhoods if there is a demand there as well, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said.
The monthly night courts will begin from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday at the Eucharist church located at 285 Main St.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News