The Community Court of Fort Lauderdale is a part of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. It is funded by a Federal Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. But, it is a collaborative effort by the Court, the City of Fort Lauderdale, the State’s Attorney’s Office, Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and other public and private service providers. Maybe you don’t know, but in 2018 there were over 3500 inmates in jail in Broward County! – the Community Court was created to help with that large number.
It is in session every Wednesday morning dealing with low level, petty crimes focusing on the root causes of the defendant’s issues. Most often the defendants are homeless! And guess who’s right there at City Hall, from 8 am to 1 pm, to spruce those folks up before they go in front of the judge — Showering Love!!! Yes!! We have been contracted with the City through United Way to provide this service to our friends who are unsheltered.
A Hand Up – Back into the Community
The defendants are expected to participate in therapeutic and community service based solutions. And they have to agree to give back in the form of community service, once they are stable. This helps their self-esteem – they are earning their own way, so to speak – it’s a hand UP, not a hand out! That philosophy is at the core of Showering Love’s mission – to inspire the desire for self-sufficiency!!
How Community Court Helps
The Community Court is a way to provide judicial services to people who are experiencing homelessness without all the restrictions of a formal court setting! This gives these people the opportunity to sit in front of a judge and be given leniency for petty crimes they may have committed. Furthermore, it offers them the ability to find alternative methods of paying a citation. Because our unsheltered friends sometimes don’t even have food to eat, paying a fine might not be an option! This service gives them an alternative! Community Court also offers treatment services that will assist those who may be facing some sort of addiction. The city is assisting these people with some of the hardships they face.
Community Court – A Collaborative Effort
Of course, Community Court has received a positive response from many organizations and donors who want to help! In addition to Showering Love coming with the mobile shower bus, Greg Young of Backpack Barber is there to help with the sprucing up. Often we are able to provide clothing that is “court appropriate”. And Memorial Health Care is there to help people find housing. And finally, Judge Jack Tuter and Judge Florence Barner officiate the proceedings – and what wonderful, compassionate judges they are!!
Community Court – a Positive Experience
These showers can make the Community Court experience a positive one!! The simple task of taking a
shower will brighten up the downtown Fort Lauderdale homeless population and will help make the
Community Court a place of love and hope.