‘Justice Day’ clears homeless offenders of minor crimes


homeless court at local shelter

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SAN DIEGO -- Homeless San Diegans had a chance to resolve minor infractions and some misdemeanors from a local shelter Wednesday, in an event geared toward breaking the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.

The "Justice Day" event was organized by the San Diego County District Attorney's office and other local agencies at the Alpha Project Shelter downtown.

The program allows for court fines and fees to be waived for crimes relating to the circumstances of homelessness, specifically for pre-screened candidates who have taken steps toward their own rehabilitation.

“Those outstanding citations or warrants are just one more roadblock for someone who is doing their best to put their life back together -- to get off the street," said District Attorney Summer Stephan.

A makeshift "courtroom" was set up on site to process about 23 participants -- including Michael Smith, an Air Force veteran who had his driver license taken away because of violations.

“I’ll have a license again. I'll be able to get a car. I'll be able to be much more productive with my life," said Smith.

Those taking part in the event were not charged with felonies or violent crimes, but with minor infractions.

Stephan said she would like to see the program take place on a regular basis.

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