Objective: Providing legal information about court programs with court sentencing specific to homeless needs.

Time to read: 3 minutes

Sources/Influencers: San Diego Homeless Court Program and the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.

Out-casted members of society juggle safely surviving in the streets while seeking resources to aid in their reintegration of society. To be a productive member of society, individuals are expected to balance their legal and financial obligations. How might a homeless man or woman regain their position in society without any legal or financial services available for their re-entry?

In 1989, five homeless military veterans demanded that local court systems provide some legal resources for homeless men and women attempting to settle their legal disputes. As a result of the veteran’s efforts, San Diego hosted its first Homeless Court Program Session at a homeless shelter. The Homeless Court Program utilizes progressive plea-bargaining and alternative sentencing structures like; educational programs, life-skills, English literacy, Alcohols Anonymous and chemical rehabilitation programs in place of fines or jail sentences. With alternative sentence structures in place, indignant members can pay their dues without falling further behind financially or going to prison. The origin of how the Homeless Court Program came about is another testimony to how military veterans are relentlessly devoted to servicing all Americans, even while they struggle to maintain.

The homeless court program is available to all indignant individuals and can be found in 26 plus locations today across the nation. The American Bar Association Commission on Homeless and Poverty have progressively been establishing this court program in more jurisdictions. If you know a homeless individual or may be a homeless individual seeking legal counsel specific to your needs, please reach out to the following jurisdiction to find a program:

Alameda County, CA Phoenix, AZ
Ann Arbor, MI Pima County/Tucson, AZ
Bakersfield, CA Sacramento, CA
Bernalillo County, Albuquerque, NM Salt Lake City, UT
Contra Costa, CA San Bernardino, CA
Denver, CO San Diego, CA
Fresno County, CA San Joaquin, CA
Houston, TX Santa Clara, CA
Humboldt, CA Santa Maria, CA
Kern County, CA Sonoma County, CA
Los Angeles, CA Springfield, MO
Maricopa County, AZ Vancouver, WA
Orange County, CA Ventura County, CA

There are endless reasons to thank a veteran. Shake his or her hand, say thank you, or simply start by sharing this information with someone in need.

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