CITY OF MONROE NEWS RELEASE
State funding extends Monroe’s Community Court program
DATE: July 24, 2023
CONTACT: Pam Haley, Monroe Municipal Court, Court Administrator,
MONROE, Wash. – Monroe Municipal Court piloted its Community Court program in 2022 thanks to grant funding provided by Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The Community Court program was recently awarded an additional $236,934 to continue through June 30, 2024. The continued funding now supports the city prosecutor and public defender’s time associated with the program and training and education for program staff. Funding will continue to support salary and benefits and training and education of court personnel involved with the program as well as equipment, and technology. Monroe Community Court is an alternative problem-solving court that seeks to address underlying issues that contribute to someone committing certain misdemeanor offenses.
“Community Court is a departure from the traditional criminal justice track and our staff works with a community court participant to problem solve their personal challenges that lead them to break the law so that they do not repeat offending,” explains Jessica Ness, Presiding Judge of Monroe Municipal Court. “Our program’s success is attributed to the diligent collaboration between the community court participant and their attorney, city prosecutor, probation counselor and court administrator, and social services providers.” A participant’s progress is monitored by Judge Ness and the team.
Monroe’s program works with adults who have been charged with low-level offenses such as theft, criminal trespass, and driving with a suspended license. At arraignment, defendants are encouraged to meet with a Community Court program coordinator to determine eligibility to participate. Once the defendant opts in, they are required to meet conditions such as observing a Community Court session, completing a risk assessment, completing community service hours, and engaging with social services. Each week there are about one dozen such cases before Judge Ness. The program is free.
Monroe Community Court service providers focus on providing substance use disorder treatment, mental health treatment, healthcare, housing, employment, legal issues, life skills, and community services like rental assistance, gas vouchers, and bus passes that are available long after the individual graduates from Community Court.
For more about the program, go to MonroeWA.gov and search “Community Court” or contact Pam Haley, Administrator, Monroe Municipal Court, at 360-863-4521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.