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By: Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez on 02/11/2013
A court system for homeless people is expanding in Maricopa County. It was created seven years ago to resolve minor offenses. Now the system has a new name and can be found in every town in the county.
The Lodestar Day Resource Center serves the homeless population. (Photo by Al Macias - KJZZ)
NADINE ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: The newly named Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court will expand operations to 23 municipal courts and 26 justice of the peace courts. The cities of Tempe, Phoenix and Glendale launched the homeless court in 2006 to handle minor misdemeanors and victimless offenses like jay walking, sleeping in public places. The court combines punishment with treatment and services in supervised rehabilitation programs. Judge MaryAnne Majestic says the expansion will help the homeless population have closer access to the system and get the help they need.
JUDGE MARYANNE MAJESTIC: There will be more social agencies that will be involved with this. More outreach going on with a lot of attorneys doing this for free. Obviously, there’s a big problem with homelessness and I think this is taking it to the next level. You know, we’ve provided shelters with them, and that’s great, that’s fantastic. But, the next thing is to help them help themselves.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: The new court locations start operating next week.