• Skagit County receives grant to support Community Court program

    September 25, 2020

    Today, Skagit County announced receiving a $400,000 grant from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Affairs to support the Skagit County Community Court program. Skagit County will match the grant funds at 25 percent over the next two years for program operation.

    Community Court began last month, and is an alternative court program focused on low-level non-violent misdemeanor crimes such as trespassing, shoplifting, or use of drug paraphernalia. The grant funding will specifically targets offenders where substance abuse is an underlying factor in their criminal behavior, with a particular emphasis on veterans, those from Skagit’s rural communities and those residing in one of Skagit’s Qualified Opportunity Zones.

    “Low-level property crimes are often rooted in homelessness, poverty, addiction or mental illness. Those experiencing some of these circumstances often get stuck in a cycle of get arrested, go to jail, get released and repeat without their core needs ever being addressed,” stated Skagit County District Court Commissioner Jenifer Howson, who presides over all three Community Courts in Skagit County. “Community Court helps to break that cycle by addressing the whole person and connecting people with much needed services. We’re really grateful for the support from the Bureau of Justice Affairs to help this program.”

    Ron Wesen, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners said, “We’re grateful to District Court staff and all those who have helped get Community Court up and running this year, and give deep thanks to the Bureau of Justice Affairs for the support.”

    Lisa Janicki, County Commissioner explained, “Community Court is about seeing individuals as whole people with individual needs and struggles, rather than as criminals. Communities can only improve and survive if they emphasize compassion for the most vulnerable, which is exactly what Community Court aims to do.”

    “By connecting Community Court participants with services, creating an early plan of action and establishing relationships between participants and service providers we can help individuals, rather than just punishing for mistakes made,” added Commissioner Dahlstedt. “My colleagues and I are proud to support this program and thankful for the Department of Justice’s support.”

    Community Court operates in the Skagit County District Court, Mount Vernon Municipal Court and Anacortes Municipal Court. The Burlington Municipal Community Court program is under development with a target start date of January 1, 2021.

    If you have questions, need additional information, or would like to volunteer services, please email CommunityCourt@co.skagit.wa.us or call the Community Court Coordinator, Cara Lorenzo, at (360) 416-1298.


    County Commissioners: Lisa Janicki, Ken Dahlstedt, Ron Wesen
    1800 Continental Place, Suite 100
    Mount Vernon, WA 98273

    (360) 416-1300  |  commissioners@co.skagit.wa.us