About Homeless Courts
The ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty has been instrumental in establishing homeless courts across the country. The Commission has developed multiple education resources, provided technical assistance, and approved policies related to homeless courts, including basic principles for homeless court programs. To counter the effect of criminal cases pushing homeless defendants further outside society, homeless courts across the country combine a progressive plea bargain system, alternative sentencing structure, assurance of “no custody,” and proof of program activities to address a full range of misdemeanor offenses. Alternative sentencing activities take the place of agency program participation for fines and custody; they include life-skills, chemical dependency or AA/NA meetings, computer or English literacy classes, training or search for employment, counseling and education. The court agreement of “no custody” acknowledges the participant’s efforts in their program activities to satisfy Court requirements.