Homeless people living at the Alpha Project Shelter in downtown San Diego will get a day in court.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Wednesday that her office is joining with criminal justice partners to help the homeless population living at the facility clear minor infractions and some misdemeanor conduct from their records.
The “Justice Day” program is a collaborative effort between the DA, Superior Court, Public Defender and the City Attorney. A courtroom is essentially set up on site where residents have an opportunity to resolve court cases related to circumstances surrounding their homelessness.
The program allows for court fines and fees to be deemed satisfied; it also allows for a limited number of minor offenses to be dismissed in order to allow a path for individuals to move forward in life, according to the DA’s office.
“For many homeless clients, it is their past and not their present that is preventing them from escaping the cycle of homelessness. Something as simple as an unpaid trolley ticket could prevent the client from obtaining a driver’s license,” said Public Defender Randy Mize. “For these clients, being able to provide rehabilitation and a hand-up through Homeless Court, instead of incarceration, helps break down barriers to becoming a productive member of our community.”
To date, about 23 participants have been pre-screened and deemed eligible to participate in the program, the DA’s office said.
“This Justice Day is one of the innovative ways that we help remove barriers and rebuild the lives of individuals who are homeless, by taking the court directly to the bridge shelters,” Stephan said. “Today we help address outstanding citations or warrants that are just one more roadblock for someone who’s doing their best to turn their life around, get off the street, find a place to live and get a job.”