SACRAMENTO—The Judicial Council at its January 17 meeting will receive a final report on a three-year grant for 39 collaborative courts and pretrial programs that tracked retention, recidivism, and failure to appear rates for participating defendants.
Collaborative justice courts—such as drug courts, veterans courts, and mental health courts—combine judicial supervision, rehabilitation services, and rigorous monitoring to reduce recidivism and improve offender outcomes. The collaborative courts funded during the three-year grant program reported:
- About 80% of participants graduated from the program or continued to receive services and comply with program requirements one year after entry.
- Only 7% of participants received new charges as a result of an arrest while in the program, and only half of those arrests resulted in a conviction.
- Less than 2% of new participants were discharged from collaborative court programs because of a new misdemeanor or felony charge.
Eleven pretrial programs assessed nearly 50,000 detainees’ risk of committing a new crime or failing to appear (FTA) during the pretrial period. The final grant report found:
- Pretrial programs can safely release more low- and moderate-risk defendants pretrial without increasing the level of risk to public safety or failures to appear in court.
- Risk assessment tools worked—those assessed as low risk had the lowest rate of pretrial failure, and those assessed as high risk had the highest rate of pretrial failure.
- Further study is needed on effective supervision and monitoring practices such as court date reminders, which might further maximize release without increasing FTA rates.
The fiscal year 2019–20 state budget funded 16 pretrial pilot programs in trial courts statewide to increase safe and efficient pretrial release.
Other items on the council meeting agenda include:
New Rule on Workplace Conduct: The council will consider a new rule of court to improve how judicial branch entities prevent and address harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and inappropriate workplace conduct. The new rule would create standardized requirements for court policies on these complaints.
Financial Plan for Building New Courthouses: The council will consider an updated five-year infrastructure plan for the judicial branch’s courthouse construction program. The council will also consider a fiscal year 2020-21 funding request for needed courthouse construction projects on the council's statewide priority list.
Education for Judges and Court Staff: The council will consider its next two-year education plan for developing and delivering education to the judicial branch. In addition to educational materials, the plan includes hundreds of in-person and online programs and courses for judicial officers, court management, and staff.
Court of Appeal Online Tools: The council will hear from the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, about the court's Transcript Assembly Program and its new Self-Help and Learning Center Website. The new website includes a timeline and steps of a typical appeal, educational videos, forms, and a chatbot to answer questions. The project is one of 50 programs supported by the Court Innovations Grant Program to promote court innovations and efficiencies.