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Street Outreach Court Detroit Resumes

Providing comfort in the time of need

Source: shapecharge / Getty

Street Outreach Court Detroit (SOCD) is one of the Specialty Courts in the 36th District Court and is commonly referred to as “Homeless Court”. It offers people the opportunity to receive the necessary life skills and support to attain stable residency and to resolve their legal obligations.

SOCD was initially established in 2012, specifically to serve homeless individuals and provide them with social services and support. SOCD has officially resumed operations following the approval by the State Court Administrative Office on November 16, 2017. The first hearing at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen was held on January 31, 2018.

SOCD, in partnership with numerous governmental, nonprofit and legal organizations, offers individuals who are homeless the opportunity to resolve civil infractions and certain misdemeanors by crediting their personal efforts to improve their lives. Guided by social service professionals, Action Plans with milestones are created, which may include completion of job training, education, drug rehabilitation or mental health treatment, and community service through the 36th District Court Work Program. Upon completion of their Action Plan, the Court may credit or waive outstanding fines, costs and/or jail time. Street Court gives participants the relief and tools they need to prevent a slide back into homelessness by addressing underlying issues.

“Street Outreach Court is a revolutionary program that helps homeless individuals turn their lives around,” says Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller, the first judge to preside over the program. “We’ve been remarkably successful in achieving lasting results, reducing costs to taxpayers, and helping people begin, and remain, on a path forward.”

“It is important that the Court demonstrates through these types of initiatives that not only is assistance available for our community’s homeless, but also that humanity and compassion exists within the justice system,” stated Nancy M. Blount, Chief Judge of the 36th District Court. “I am pleased that the program is resuming and look forward to its ongoing success.”

SOCD was the 23rd Homeless Court in the country in 2012 (the year it was established), and remains the only one combining criminal and civil pro bono counsel.

SOCD conferences are held at the Court while hearings are held at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Meldrum location. Free legal representation is provided by Street Democracy, a nonprofit organization providing legal aid to homeless individuals and veterans. Street Democracy led the effort to establish SOCD, in partnership with Detroit Action Commonwealth, a membership organization addressing the root causes of homelessness, poverty, and injustice.

“I commend the 36th District Court for partnering on this forward-thinking program that addresses the root causes of homelessness and helps break the cycle of poverty,” says Jayesh Patel, president and founder of Street Democracy. “Street Outreach Court Detroit is a highly collaborative effort that has been proven to have a lasting impact on our clients and the community at large. We are excited to get back to this work.” Street Outreach Court Detroit has been remarkably successful, serving nearly 250 individuals between June 2012 and October 2015.

Street Outreach Court Detroit partners include the 36th District Court, Detroit Action Commonwealth, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, City of Detroit Law Department, City of Detroit Municipal Parking Department, Street Democracy, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, St. Leo’s Soup Kitchen, Neighborhood Legal Services, Southwest Economic Solutions, and Volunteers of America.

For more information, visit http://www.streetdemocracy.org/socd.

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