Thurston County reviews proposed hybrid homeless court model


Criminal Justice Regional Program Manager Leah Landon presented the first version of the formal proposal for Thurston County’s Court Alternative Program (TC-CAP) to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) yesterday, September 7.

Legislators suggested that the county may benefit from a hybrid version of San Diego's Homeless Court model to assist those who are justice-involved and might benefit from extra community-based services.

“What is TC-CAP? For the big thing, it would be a hybrid approach based on San Diego's model. It's not necessarily a homeless court – it's turned into something broader in this proposal,” Landon said. “The main goal is to connect people to community-based service providers that can help address the root cause of their criminal behavior.”

Background on homeless court

The proposal stated that traditional homeless court programs allow homeless people to resolve legal issues while working to address the underlying cause of their homelessness.

These programs are different from other court models in that they are not supervision courts, and they address a full range of misdemeanor cases. San Diego’s Homeless Court covers all misdemeanor offenses and excludes domestic violence and sex offenses.

“We know for some individuals, sometimes, something such as substance abuse or mental health issue[s] can be the leading cause of unfair behavior. And if we're able to address and take care of that underlying root cause, we can prevent further involvement in the justice system,” explained Landon.

Service providers in homeless courts assist and encourage participants to take responsibility for their actions by giving “credit for time served,” allowing the individuals to receive services that address the underlying cause of their homelessness while reconciling their legal involvement.

Service providers must have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the county, which is reviewed and approved by public defense, judges, prosecutor’s office, and other stakeholders.

Thurston County’s Court Alternative Program

Thurston County’s Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) received a briefing from Criminal Justice Regional Program Manager Leah Landon about Thurston County’s Court Alternative Program (TC-CAP) yesterday, September 7, 2023.
Thurston County’s Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) received a briefing from Criminal Justice Regional Program Manager Leah Landon about …

TC-CAP participants would have to accept or decline whether or not they want to participate, and they could formally end their participation at any time.

“Based on this proposal, TC-CAP would be housed within the Resource Hub, which was technically within Pretrial Services, but we've done a great job keeping it as its own entity. In addition, TC-CAP would be a voluntary program,” said Landon.

The Thurston County Resource Hub has a steady stream of clients, with over 970 people since June 2022. The Hub’s atmosphere and person-centered approach align well with the goals of TC-CAP, to reduce barriers and help connect people to the services they need.

There is also an eligibility requirement for prospective participants based on indigency, and outstanding warrants on specific misdemeanors, which will also include outstanding traffic tickets/citations and legal financial obligations in the program’s full launch.

“[If a] certain individual is indigent and has an active misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, they will be eligible for the program, but this would exclude sex offenses and domestic violence offenses, which is similar to San Diego's homeless court model,” said Landon.

Currently, indigency is determined by the court asking individuals if they can afford an attorney, and if they cannot, a public defender is assigned to the case.

After voluntarily choosing to be part of the program, the individual must engage with the service provider. Failure to do so will result in revocation of the TC-CAP agreement, and the individual’s case will returned to the traditional system.

“They will be connected to a community service provider that offers holistic case management. That service provider will then administer any necessary assessments that the person needs in order to determine what the breadth of their issues are, and from there, that provider would move forward with putting the appropriate supports in place,” said Landon.

Successful program participants are recommended for graduation once the provider submits a referral to the TC-CAP Program Coordinator after they have completed their services.

“Once the person has engaged in community-based services, and we have verified that they've completed all of the TC-CAP requirements, then the service provider will refer the client for graduation to the TC-CAP Program Coordinator,” Landon explained.

“At that point, the TC-CAP program coordinator would verify that they've met all the requirements and completed everything they needed to for graduation. And then, once they've confirmed their eligibility for graduation, there would be a monthly case review team that would meet that would be comprised of the prosecutor's office, and public defense, in addition to the service providers. At that point, they would determine the outcome of the case,” Landon added.

“It's exciting that this program is coming to Thurston County. There was a lot of positive engagement. There was a lot of interest from a lot of the providers about something like this happening in Thurston County, which getting that feedback was good,” Mejia shared.

The next steps for the TC-CAP will be:

  1. Continue engaging stakeholders.
    • Meeting with San Diego lead in October.
  2. Present the final proposal.
  3. Create the TC-CAP Implementation Committee.
  4. Hire a TC-CAP Program Coordinator.
  5. Start the Pilot Project.
  6. Solicit feedback from stakeholders and program participants.
  7. Launch TC-CAP in full.


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  • JulesJames

    Worse than a waste of money. There is a massive infrastructure of help and guidance already available. This is essentially saying: "Because you are illegally taking government property for personal use, Thurston County isn't going to prosecute you for the other crimes you commit." Spend social services money on those who need help who don't break the law.

    Saturday, September 9, 2023 Report this

  • FordPrefect

    Holy smokes, San Diego is DEFINITELY NOT the example we want to follow!

    The changes over the past five years has been nothing short of shameful. Many of the businesses in the Gaslamp District have been boarded up and there are vagrants on every block who boldly hassle passersby. The homeless/addicts have completely taken over what used to be a beautiful city.

    Why do we need a different/softer application of the law for repeat offenders? Where are the equality advocates on this one?

    Saturday, September 9, 2023 Report this