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STEP Court -- Shelter, Treatment, and Empowerment Program Court; connecting low-level offenders with necessary services to obtain mental health treatment, addiction treatment, and empowerment program.

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Los Angeles
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $514,145)

The City Attorney’s Office for Santa Monica, CA, in partnership with Exodus Recovery, Inc., seeks funding to create a prosecutor-led, collaborative diversion court, which will connect qualifying individuals with housing assistance, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, and a pathway to dismissal of criminal charges.

        The City seeks $515,000 to fund resource navigators, court security, and infrastructure. The goal of the project is to connect the target population with the resources necessary to get off the street and into permanent housing.

        A key component will be the creation of a monthly community-based, local court. At each court session, relevant agencies will have an in-person presence, allowing program participants to engage with them in real-time. Currently, Santa Monica criminal cases are heard at a courthouse located outside the City. By bringing the courtroom into Santa Monica, and providing immediate access to service providers, the project will remove significant barriers to access. 

        The City expects that, as a result of the program, the number of unhoused individuals in the City, and consequently the number of police contacts with unhoused individuals, will be reduced.

        The target population, the direct beneficiaries of the program, will be justice-involved individuals, with low-level misdemeanor and municipal code violations in Santa Monica, who have mental health/substance abuse disorders and are experiencing homelessness. The City at-large will receive an indirect benefit from the reduction in recidivism and resource-utilization. Furthermore, program events will be open to the public and advertised to the community. Agencies will also be available for consultation by any member of the community. As such, all individuals in need of housing assistance, mental health treatment, or substance abuse treatment will be able to connect with service providers.

        The program will focus on the following areas: promote racial equity and the removal of barriers to access for communities historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by inequality; the promotion of effective strategies for identification and treatment of females with MHDs who are involved with the CJ system; the promotion of effective strategies to expand the use of mental health courts; the promotion of interventions that have been shown by empirical evidence to reduce recidivism; a demonstration that the funds will be used for public health and safety; and documentation that funds used for treatment of incarcerated populations will provide transition and reentry services.
        The City Attorney’s Office has not previously received JMHCP grant funds

Date Created: September 26, 2023