FLINT, MI – A new program recently announced by the Center for Civil Justice aims to help homeless people solve their crimes by participating in activities such as job training and life skills training.
The Flint Genesee Homeless Court program, announced by the Center for Civil Justice, on Monday, October 12. homeless in Flint and Genesee counties.
In 2019, the CCJ, with help from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, hosted a forum to pitch the idea and explore the community’s interest and need for a program. homeless justice, according to a press release from the CCJ.
“From the start, the response from all partners was positive and we immediately started the planning process,” said CCJ Executive Director Kelly Bidelma.
Partners such as Steve Binder, founder of the Homeless Court and ABA Liaison, Jayesh Patel, founder of the Detroit Homeless Court Program and Street Outreach Court Detroit, were instrumental in sharing the best practices, forms and documents, added Bidelma.
“Judges Larry Williams and Kristina Robinson Garrett invited members of our community to observe Street Outreach Court Detroit and also offered to help,” she said.
Partners in the program include the 67th District Court, the District Attorney, the Genesee County Sheriff and Commission, the City of Flint Legal Department, various parking enforcement agencies, Flint / Genesee Continuum of Care and its many shelters. and service agencies.
“Shelters work with each guest on an individualized action plan to get the skills and support they need to access permanent housing,” said Essence Wilson, chair of the Flint / Genesee Continuum of Care. “Those who work in treatment-oriented diversion activities are recognized for their hard work, transformation and for overcoming difficulties through a referral to the program. “
Genesee County District Attorney David Leyton supports the program.
“We expect to be able to resolve charges that homeless people face simply because they live on the streets, such as trespassing, public drinking or sleeping in the doorway. a door, ”Leyton said. “We can replace prison sentences and fines with participation in life skills or vocational training. “
67th District Court Judge G. David Guinn echoed the same sentiments. He said treatment-oriented diversion programs operate based on the results of the many specialist courts in Genesee County.
Also on board is Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson, who recently made national news for removing his riot gear and marching with Flint protesters in a peaceful race for racial justice. He highlighted the potential savings for the community.
“If someone is arrested there are costs for a police officer’s arrest, warrant, jail and time,” Swanson said. “For a homeless person without the ability to pay, it doesn’t make sense to take a hard-line approach. “
Flint’s program will be unique to its counterparts across the country, according to program officials.
Genesee County Court Deputy Friend Tony McDowell has offered to relieve child support arrears owed to the state and resolve arrest warrants for participants.
“By helping to clear the arrears owed by the state for those who do not have the capacity to pay and by resolving the warrants, we hope to be able to help families to have one less obstacle and to make it a little easier for them to succeed,” McDowell said.
The Center for Civil Justice defends the rights of people experiencing poverty in Michigan. CCJ is working to achieve systemic change that improves the lives of Michigan’s low-income residents and ensures better access to basic needs, including food and nutrition, health care and housing, according to its website.