I was so encouraged reading the front-page article in last Sunday’s Globe by James H. Burnett III about the Homeless Court (“Finding order in a court: Before this judge, homeless defendants get a chance to stitch new life from threadbare hopes,” Page A1). I am happy that this is being tried as an alternative to the same old traditional-court process that fills our jails and costs more money. Working with people for whom this alternative might be better keeps them as contributing citizens.
Thank you to retired municipal court judge Maurice Richardson, who suggested the idea to Charles Johnson, chief justice of Boston Municipal Court, after seeing such a system work in San Diego, and thanks to Johnson for being open to it. I really appreciate how Boston Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Coffey is making time to hear the cases in the absence of direct funding for the program, and how social workers, agencies, and organizations, such as the Pine Street Inn and Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, have stepped in to help make the process work.
It is too bad that this apparently successful program is not given the funding it needs to address all of the people who could benefit from it, when many other less worthy ideas get funding. Plenty of politicians are ready to criticize the prison and court system; where is at least one who will lead the effort to make the Homeless Court a full-time success?