SF Community Court Moves Forward (and a radio piece on the foster care system)

Bernice Yeung published an editorial in the San Fransisco Chronicle this Sunday in favor of the new community court planned there. For two sides in the debate on homelessness and a great radio piece on the foster care system Read more...

I think the most interesting detail of the plan in San Fransisco is that planners have decided not to focus on certain crimes, such as public drunkenness and public urination, that are categorized as "quality of life" offenses, deciding to focus instead on misdemeanors such as theft and drug crimes. This is an adaptation of the community court model that recognizes the reality of public opinion in San Fransisco, especially regarding homelessness. However, I wonder if it gives up an essential part of the community court model, the idea that residents and government can and should set and enforce codes of behavior in public places. Click here to read the article.

Here's a different view from Philadelphia: A recent editorial in the Inquirer advocates a "tough love" approach, including Community Courts, for addressing exactly these issues.
"The growing numbers of homeless congregating downtown represent a throwback to a time when Philadelphia was nearly out of money and civic hope. In today's vibrant, growing Center City, people who camp out, use public spaces as their toilet, and press every passer-by for a handout seem even more out of place. They are citizens worthy of respect, compassion and help, but that doesn't equate to letting them do in public whatever their mental illness drives them to do."
Click here for the full article.

Plus, don't miss this radio broadcast. The piece (which aired this past Sunday on the show "This American Life") profiles Anthony Pico, a youth in the California foster care system who has become an accomplished public speaker and is regularly invited to conferences to describe problems in the foster care system to rooms full of social workers, judges and politicians. Despite this, though, Anthony still struggles with challenges that are familiar to many youth in the foster care system.

Finally, stay tuned. Bronx Community Solutions case manager Robert Fagan was recently interviewed for two radio broadcasts here in New York. We'll have the audio up this week.