Street Court relaunches to help low-income Detroiters resolve legal obligations

When you have a warrant out for your arrest, which can be issued simply from unpaid fines, it's almost impossible to put your life back to together. That's why Street Outreach Court Detroit (SOCD) was founded. And it just re-launched on Jan. 31 this year. 

Commonly referred to as "Homeless Court" and facilitated by the 36th District Court, SOCD holds hearings at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen to help low-income Detroiters resolve legal obligations, like civil infractions and certain misdemeanors. It does this through the creation of "Action Plans," where the defendant must complete milestones in job training, education, drug rehabilitation or mental health treatment, after which fines or jail time is waived. 

"Street Outreach Court is a revolutionary program that helps homeless individuals turn their lives around," said 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 started in Detroit in 2012, but took a hiatus before starting again this year. It was the 23rd Homeless Court in the country the year it was established, and remains the only one combining criminal and civil pro bono counsel. Free legal representation is provided by Street Democracy, a nonprofit organization providing legal aid to homeless individuals and veterans.
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