Hartford Community Court
ing community service. CPA staff also have a lot of experience dealing with offend- ers who have physical conditions which make them difficult to place in community service projects. Their expectations are grounded in experience. As a result, there is less concern about community service liability than in jurisdictions with no com- munity service “track record.” As one respondent put it, liability issues are “not a major concern.”
CPA has hired five full-time personnel devoted exclusively to the Community Court. These include a community service coordinator and four community service supervisors. Each of the four crew supervisors is assigned to a quadrant of the city with a vehicle to transport the crew. Crews are provided brown-bag lunches from a local vendor (who has been victimized multiple times and is an active community participant).
The community service coordinator has a multifaceted job. First, he helps the Judge to coordinate crew scheduling. He is also responsible for presenting progress reports (about compliance and appropriateness of behavior) to the Judge. The Court relies on this information in deciding whether to dismiss the case or issue a warrant for non-compliance. Using the Court’s MIS, he ensures that projects are monitored and assigned properly, and are coordinated with defendants’ human services man- dates. In addition, the community service coordinator serves as liaison to the 17 com- munity members who represent their respective problem-solving committees, accept- ing referrals for service projects from them.
CPA also runs the Hartford Area Mediation Program (HAMP), which traditionally functioned as a form of pretrial diversion. In its preliminary operations, the Community Court has used attendance at a one-on-one dispute mediation session, run by HAMP, as a condition of a plea for some cases. In the future, dialogues between community members and defendants at the Community Court might also include reconciliation groups that bring together neighborhood residents and offend- ers. For example, Court planners have discussed the possibility of convening ses- sions between community members and those arrested for soliciting prostitutes.
The coordinator of the Community Court’s human services component, who has a history of working with welfare and medical benefits, supports the concept of providing services “under one roof.” The coordinator believes that having multiple service providers close to one another makes service delivery more efficient, stating, “while we all have worked for the same or similar clients, we have never had the opportunity to work as a team in the same environment for the same end.” To facili- tate service delivery, the courthouse building contains a large seminar room that will be used for educational groups, as well as a computer room that can be used for voca- tional training.
As mentioned earlier, the human services staff have considerable autonomy in delivering service plans for defendants. If the human service staff decides that it would benefit a truant youth who has committed a disorderly offense to return to