Community Court Could Decrease Repeat Offenders

We often see many of the same names pop up in police reports sent to us by area police departments.

We hope the creation of a Community Court within Jamestown City Court helps keep some of those names from showing up in the paper as often.

The concept behind community courts is that every person charged, even those who face misdemeanors or non-violent felonies, are assessed to see what caused the problem. The screenings will try to reveal if the person charged has a mental health problem, alcohol or drug abuse issues, are unemployed or possibly has other issues and direct them to the resources they need. The hope is that getting people into programs that can help them will decrease the population in the Chautauqua County Jail and prevent those who start with low-level crimes from progressing to more serious crimes later in their lives. Community Court hopefully will also decrease the number of calls received by area police departments and improve the safety and quality of everyone’s lives by decreasing low-level crimes.

A 2013 evaluation of a Brooklyn community court saw jail sentences decrease by 35 percent, a 10 percent decrease in adult reoffenders and a 20 percent decrease in youth reoffenders and a sustained decrease in both felony and misdemeanor arrests. We hope Jamestown has similar success with its program when it launches in the fall.