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King County community courts

“My experience here has saved my life. Not only am I off the drugs and staying clean by taking the healthy steps to live life clean, I also have been able to get myself back in a healthy structured living situation. Community court is the most awesome program. I am so blessed to have the honor to be a part of this program.” – Review from an anonymous Community Court in Redmond participant

A community court is an alternative problem-solving court. It differs from traditional court in that it seeks to identify and address the underlying challenges of court participants that may contribute to further criminal activity. Its goal is to build stronger and safer neighborhoods and reduce recidivism.

A community resource center is an integral component of community court. The resource center at each community court includes on-site community partners that provide a wide array of services, such as healthcare/insurance, education, job training, behavioral health, substance use disorder help and more. By coming together in one place, many different community service agencies are better able to collaborate. Resource centers are available to all members of the public in addition to the community court participants.
Community courts provide services and accountability for those who are eligible and choose to participate. An assessment is conducted for all community court participants to identify their challenges and strengths. The assessment provides information to help determine what follow-up steps an individual community court participant will be required to take. Among other actions, participants often are required to perform community service.

Community court increases collaboration between the criminal justice system and other systems, including mental health, substance use disorder, human services, housing, employment and education.

King County community courts are a collaborative effort between King County District Court, local cities, service providers and other public agencies.
“A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center” was published in 2013 and found positive outcomes. This community court, located in Brooklyn and established in 2000, was one of the first in the nation. Here are some of the findings of the evaluation:
  • Increased cost efficiencies:
    • Decreased costs of crimes to victims
    • Savings outweighed program costs by a factor of nearly 2 to 1
  • Reduced use of jail [35% fewer offenders received jail sentences]
  • Reduced recidivism [10% reduction]
  • Reduced crime [sustained decrease in both felony and misdemeanor arrests]
Read more here: Research findings for Red Hook, New York, Community Justice Center.
An important goal of community court is reintegrating participants into the community and healing the harm their offenses might have caused.

Having court hearings in a safe, neutral and community-centered location (such as a library or community center) encourages the participants to stay engaged and removes the stigma associated with the courthouse. Additionally, as community resource centers co-located with the courts are crucial to providing services that participants and other community members need, it is important to house the resource centers in places that are easily accessible to everyone.
State law mandates weapons screening in all courthouses. This requirement applies to rooms within public facilities such as libraries and community centers when those rooms are hosting community court. As a result, a security screener is in position at King County community courts to wand individuals before entering the courtroom. Bags also are checked before entering the courtroom.

No screening is required to enter portions of the facility not being used as a courtroom.
The specific crimes heard at each community court vary by city. Examples of these misdemeanor crimes include urinating in public, sleeping in a park, theft, trespass or disorderly conduct. Driving-related cases currently are not eligible.
Community court participants must not have any violent felony convictions in the last five years; any pending violent felony charges; or a sex offender history.
The specific services available at each community resource center vary by city. Examples of services available to court participants and all other community members, include:

  • Substance Use Disorder Assessment/Support
  • Mental Health Assessment/Support
  • Public Assistance Support
  • Housing Assistance
  • Employment Assistance
  • GED/Education/Training Programs
  • Food Banks/Food Assistance Programs
  • Civil Legal Aid
  • Dispute Resolution & Mediation Services

Lists of services providers
The community resource centers are open to everyone; You do not have to be involved with community court to use the services.
The community resource centers are open as follows:
  • Burien: Mondays, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Redmond: Wednesdays, 1:30pm – 3:30pm.
Yes, community court is open to the public. Anyone entering the courtroom must go through the required security screening.
Contact Ericka Cooley, King County District Court community court coordinator:
Ericka.Cooley@kingcounty.gov; (206) 409-0212.
  • Burien: Burien Community Center – 14700 6th Ave SW
  • Redmond: Redmond Library – 15990 NE 85th St