Neighborhood Court: A Restorative Justice Program

Neighborhood Court Logo 2015

What is Neighborhood Court?

Neighborhood Court (NHC) uses the principles of restorative justice to resolve offenses outside of the traditional criminal justice system. Volunteer panelists take part in a conference with their fellow community members and the participant to hold them accountable by identifying the harms caused by their conduct. Together they come up with a collaborative solution designed to address those harms in a way that is restorative rather than punitive.  Neighborhood Court’s volunteers help victims, community members, and participants move forward in a positive direction.

How It Works

Neighborhood Court was initiated by the Yolo County District Attorney in 2013. It is a collaborative effort between the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, and Woodland,  along with UC Davis and local police departments.

The purpose of this program is to address criminal violations that impact the quality of life of our neighborhoods.

Our volunteer panelists represent the community's needs, interests, and perspectives with respect to the crime committed. Volunteers meet directly with the offender in a face-to-face facilitated conference.

During the conference, volunteers 1) name the harms the community experiences as a result of the crime, 2) ask questions of the offender to understand the circumstances around the crime, and 3) decide together with the offender the steps that are necessary to make things right (as much as possible). This face-to-face dialogue is designed to encourage accountability on the part of the offender and remedy the situation as fully as possible.

Join the NHC Volunteer Team

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is always seeking community volunteers for the Neighborhood Court diversion program. Submit a volunteer application today!  Please register at My Volunteer Portal and apply. We look forwarded to welcoming you to the Neighborhood Court Team!

You can regularly find Neighborhood Court tabling at local colleges, universities, and community events.  Students play a big role in helping to restore their communities by serving on our panels. Thanks to NHC’s minimal time commitment (one night a month from 6-9 pm!) and flexible scheduling, anyone can serve! If you’re a student and need some extracurricular activities to boost your resume, NHC might be a perfect fit!

Prospective volunteers are required to complete both the Panelist Training and Mock Conference Training sessions. Training is held annually in Davis, West Sacramento, and Woodland in the Spring and Fall. Volunteers must complete a background check and observe a conference in order to serve as panelists.

  • Neighborhood Court Panelist Training - The Panelist Training covers the basic principles of Restorative Justice, the 3-step Neighborhood Court conference model, and communication skills applicable to the Panelist role.
  • Neighborhood Court Mock Conference Training - The Mock Conference training allows participants to act out a conference from start to finish and practice applying the techniques and skills they learned in training.

Training Schedule

Fall 2018 Training Dates

Saturday, November 10th, 8:45am - 5pm

West Sacramento Community Center, River Room

1075 W. Capitol Ave. 

Phone: 530-666-8378
Cost/Free: Events are provided free of charge to volunteers
Registration Deadline: Continuous

The 4 Pillars of Neighborhood Court

Neighborhood Court utilizes victim advocate services and engages community resources to provide better options and support to program participants.

Neighborhood Court strengthens neighborhoods impacted by criminal activity in four ways:

Restore Victim
Neighborhood Court is victim centered by placing emphasis on the victim’s needs. It is focused on offenders making things right to the greatest extent possible with their victims. Offenders pay restitution to victims who have suffered monetary losses or property damage.

Restore Community
Neighborhood Court creates an atmosphere of inclusion and responsibility by providing a direct role for residents to oversee the resolution of offenses in their city. When appropriate the offender will complete community service that goes directly to improving conditions in the area impacted by the crime.

Restore Offender
Neighborhood Court offers offenders a second chance by avoiding a criminal conviction on their record upon successful completion of the program. Offenders are also restored by helping them understand the consequence of their actions and by giving them the opportunity to pay back the community they harmed through community service.

Educate Offender
Neighborhood Court educates offenders by helping them understand why they committed the offense which led to their current situation. Offenders can be educated in alcohol use, anger management, and how to be considerate to their community, as well as other topics designed to change or modify their behavior.

Neighborhood Court does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and/or age.

What's Next?

Neighborhood Court is expanding to better address participants struggling with mental health and addiction issues through a program called Steps to Success (S2S). S2S utilizes principals of Restorative Justice to address the intersections of criminal misconduct and such issues as untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse in Yolo County. The main goals are to:

  • Assist participants in gaining access to medical treatment so they can begin the road to recovery.
  • Develop a case plan with a case management team designed to connect the participant with assistance and public programs that can offer relief to their current situation.
  • Help participants to reintegrate themselves within the larger community.

This program utilizes community volunteers in a format similar to Neighborhood Court. Participants meet in a conference with a facilitator, panelists, and a case worker. Volunteers may choose to participate in NHC and/or S2S. If you would like to volunteer for S2S, you must complete both NHC and S2S training sessions.

NHC Banner Patch (PNG)

DA's Office Releases Four-Year Report on Neighborhood Court Program and Comprehensive 2017 Recidivism Study


To read the entire Four-Year Report click on the following link: NHC Four-Year Report
To read the entire Recidivism Study click on the following link: NHC Program Recidivism Study

Download Printable Brochure
Download Neighborhood Court Panelist Application
Download Neighborhood Court Facilitator Application
Description of the Facilitator's Duties and Qualifications
Description of Panelist's Duties and Qualifications
Frequently Asked Questions
Menu of Options (UPDATED 1/1/2019)
NHC Qualifying Offenses
NHC eligibility criteria
Participant Rights
Neighborhood Court Research Paper
Restorative Justice Defined
2014 Neighborhood Court Year End Report

2013 DCTV Interview

All downloads are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Please click here to get the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For More Information:

If you would like additional information about Neighborhood Court, please call (530) 666-8378, or email

Homeless Neighborhood Court

HNHC Dan Walker

Homeless Neighborhood Court graduate Dan Walker preparing meals for the homeless at Fourth and Hope, where he is currently employed.

“Homelessness is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a constructive fashion, and we are committed to being part of the solution. The endless cycle of arrests and jail sentences has clearly failed. It is time for a new approach that focuses on the causes of homelessness and promotes self-sufficiency.” – District Attorney Jeff Reisig

The Homeless Neighborhood Court (H-NHC) diverts criminal charges for individuals identified by law enforcement agencies, the Health and Human Services Agency, or the District Attorney’s Office as transient.

Participants engage with the program’s Social Worker-Practitioner who provides support to ensure the successful fulfillment of case plan objectives. The case plan addresses four dimensions: housing, self-sufficiency, behavioral health, and physical health. Oftentimes program clients include individuals afflicted with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, which require a high level of attention and assistance to successfully reintegrate into society.

H-NHC uses a restorative justice conference process similar to the standard Neighborhood Court program, where the Social Worker participates to assist the client throughout the process. 81% of program clients who participated in a restorative justice conference through H-NHC have graduated from the program.

The Chronicles of Justice Episode 3: NHC Homeless Restorative Justice Program

H-NHC Participant Perspectives

Neighborhood Court’s Local Evaluation Plan (LEP) team for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) interviewed several of H-NHC’s participants to gather feedback on their experience with the program:

• “They (H-NHC) stayed with me because they saw something in me that I did not—gave me chance.”
• “They had hope and faith in me,” “made me believe in myself,” “they opened the door and let me walk in…,” “if I did not have this program I would not be doing well”…[H-NHC]…”encouraged me.”
• “H-NHC gave me a place to call, they come knocking on your door, and took a chance with me, but I was ready to change.”
• “They [Deanna and Marshall] had hope and faith in me…made me believe in myself.”
• “They made all the paperwork easy—I was pretty anti-establishment.”
• “Not to give up. If things don’t work out, keep trying, move to something else, it taught me persistence pays off.”
• “To make adult decisions, allowing yourself to feel—no self-blame,” “learning who I am,” “showed me the road but did not decide the direction...that mistakes are okay,” “learned that it is okay to ask for help because I can’t do everything myself.”
• “We need more programs like this,” “[I] wish there was more transitional housing,” “maybe [I could] be a peer mentor to others to set an example.”

H-NHC in the news:

DA Seeks Volunteers for Neighborhood Court, Homeless Offender Programs
Yolo County DA Helps Homeless Offenders with Court
Program Helps Chef Find Fresh Start Off Streets in Yolo County

Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court Sketch

MHC participant Gary Wight’s (seated far right) graduation ceremony on 9/25/2017, as depicted by court artist Vicki Behringer. Others pictured are all members of the MHC team representing the Public Defender, Probation, District Attorney, Health and Human Services and the judiciary.

"Prisons are not the right place for those suffering from mental illness. We are committed to working with mental health professionals, judges and others to provide more appropriate and effective options for the seriously mentally ill." – District Attorney Jeff Reisig

Over the past 5 years, Yolo County prosecutors have been focusing more attention on defendants who commit crimes as a result of their serious mental illness. This program increases participant’s insight into their mental illness by connecting them with community treatment services, reducing recidivism and enhancing public safety. With that increased focus, the District Attorney was one of the Yolo County agencies instrumental in starting Mental Health Court (MHC).

MHC is a minimum 18-month collaborative court-based treatment and monitoring system for adult offenders with serious mental illnesses. The program is a partnership between the Yolo County Superior Court, Probation Department, Health and Human Services Agency, the Public Defender, and the District Attorney. MHC is a strategic program designed to effectively address the increasing number of seriously mentally ill defendants cycling through the courts and jails.

Founded in 2013, MHC serves up to 14 Yolo County residents at a given time who suffer from serious mental illnesses and charged with Misdemeanor or Felony offenses. The program focuses on 4 goals for program participants: improving treatment engagement, reducing recidivism, reducing jail bed days, and decreasing local and state hospital bed stays.

Program participants progress through four phases: 1. Orientation and treatment plan development, 2. Early recovery, 3. Active recovery, and 4. Sustained recovery. Progression through the four phases includes increasing days of sobriety, writing a reflective essay at the completion of each phase, and consistently participating in treatment.

Read more about MHC’s program graduates:

Dennis Cortopassi | Jesse Fiero | Gary Wight

Mental Health Court program stats:

Mental Health Court Stats

Addiction Intervention Court

Addiction Intervention Court

Addiction Intervention Court participant Crystal Reta in court with Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven—see Crystal’s story below.

“Our office is committed to supporting this innovative collaborative, where certain non-violent drug addicted offenders are given the opportunity to accept responsibility for their illegal conduct. Participants work with trained treatment providers and other professionals to conquer their addiction and reclaim their lives from the effects of drugs and poor choices.” – District Attorney Jeff Reisig

Addiction Intervention Court (AIC) is a specialty court program that serves up to 20 individuals at a time who struggle with substance use disorders and are involved in the criminal justice system as a result of their addiction. The program is a collaborative effort between the Yolo County Superior Court, Yolo County Public Defender, the District Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department, and the Health and Human Services Agency. The program provides intensive support services and supervision aimed at increasing a participant’s overall quality of life while reducing recidivism.

In early 2017, the partners on this project began revising and reviewing the previous Felony Drug Court program that had existed in Yolo County for decades. AIC is the result of that reform; shifting the focus from a reactionary Felony Drug Court that was used as a last-ditch effort before sending an individual to state prison, to a proactive program designed to address addiction issues long before an individual gets to that point.

AIC utilizes a similar model to the successful Yolo County Mental Health Court program. Participants progress through four phases: 1. Engagement, 2. Transition, 3. Sustainability, and 4. Maintenance. Progression through the four phases includes increasing days of sobriety, drug and alcohol testing, participation in a 12-step treatment program or an equivalent program, obtaining employment and permanent housing, and decreasing the number of arrests. Program graduates are required to remain arrest-free for a minimum of 9 months, maintain a minimum of 180 continuous days of sobriety, and establish an exit plan with the program’s Clinician and Probation Officer.

The program is completely voluntary; AIC offers individuals who want to seek treatment for addiction issues a support system to help accomplish that goal. AIC uses a rewards-based system to encourage progression through the four phases, which may include, but are not limited to, gift cards, reduced reporting to the Probation Officer and AIC, reduction of fines and fees, letters of recommendation for employment and employment, and potentially the dismissal of charges upon successful completion of AIC and probation (at the discretion of the AIC team).

Participant’s Story

Crystal was arrested in Yolo County for vehicle theft. When the DA’s charging deputy reviewed the case it was clear that she had a significant heroin addiction. The prosecutor referred her for an AIC assessment and she was accepted into the program where she is flourishing thanks to the help of the AIC team. Crystal’s mom sent a note expressing her gratitude for the program:

“Crystal came home for the weekend. I have my daughter back!! Thank you!!! If she had been in the county where we live? Go to jail…DO NOT collect $200.00. I’ve never seen a court system or community resource assistance program like yours ever! I am grateful to you, her probation officer, public defender, the DA and the Courts! Please express my gratitude for me! This was very heart wrenching and traumatic for me.”

Citizen’s Academy


The Yolo County District Attorney Citizens Academy is sponsored by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office in cooperation with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Davis Police Department, the UC Davis Police Department, the West Sacramento Police Department, the Winters Police Department, the Woodland Police Department, and the Yolo County Probation Department.

The Citizen’s Academy is an eight-week course designed to involve diverse communities in participating in mutual learning about the criminal justice system. The goal is to educate the public and improve relationships and communication between the many different communities in Yolo County and the criminal justice system.

The eight-week academy meets once a week, usually on Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:30 p.m., beginning in late April and running through mid June.   For more information, or to enroll, please contact Wendy Wilcox at (530) 666-8356, Class space is limited. Applicants must be 18 years of age and be a resident of Yolo County.  The application deadline is during the first week of April annually.

Lauren Keene from the Davis Enterprise wrote an article about our Week 4 class, "High Profile Cases - People v. Daniel Marsh", that took place on June 4th, 2015. Here is a link to her article titled: Marsh Case Illustrates Challenges of Solving, Trying Crimes.

DCTV In The Studio - The Citizen's Academy

Yolo County District Attorney’s
Citizens Academy

Summary of Classes
in partnership with

Yolo County Sheriff’s Office
California Highway Patrol
Davis Police Department
UC Davis Police Department
Woodland Police Department
West Sacramento Police Department
Winters Police Department
Yolo County Probation Department

APRIL 11 - MAY 30

The Citizens Academy is held annually from
Late April - Mid June
Thursdays, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.



Schedule varies and is subject to change

Week One:

Welcome: Introduction to the Citizens Academy. “It Takes a Community….” What can a concerned citizen do to make our community a better place to live?

Summary: Welcome to Citizens Academy with an overview of the next eight weeks and the participating agencies.

Introduction and Overview of the Academy, Mission & Welcoming Remarks
District Attorney Jeff Reisig

Welcoming Remarks
Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez
Yolo County Probation Department Chief Dan Fruchtenicht
California Highway Patrol Captain Ivan Tien
Davis Police Department Chief Darren Pytel
UC Davis Police Department Chief Joseph Farrow
Winters Police Department Chief John Miller
West Sacramento Police Chief Thomas McDonald
Woodland Police Department Deputy Chief Derek Kaff

Overview of Public Safety Agencies Representatives from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and Law Enforcement Agencies

Week Two:

Tour of the County Jail and Coroner's Office

Summary:  The Yolo County Sheriff's Office provides a broad spectrum of services including patrol to the unincorporated areas of the County, Investigations, Court Services, Animal Services, and Jail services.  Sheriff Tom Lopez is also the Coroner of the County.  The primary duty of the Coroner is to determiner the cause and manner of death.

Sheriff Tom Lopez and Sheriff's Office / Morgue staff

Tour:  During this session participants will tour the jail and the morgue. 

Week Three:

The Role of the District Attorney and Challenges: “Law & Order.”

Summary: While prime time television shows such as “Law & Order” capture ratings and audiences, they fail to show the day-to-day work of the District Attorney. We will provide an overview of the District Attorney’s Office and its Mission: Justice Finds No Solace in Delay. Learn how a case makes its way through the criminal justice system.  Also, you will hear about the challenges facing prosecutors today, including Realignment and Proposition 47.  The District Attorney's Office will provide an overview using the case People v. Robert Hodges, a high profile triple homicide case, as an example. 

Overview of the DA’s Office
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven

Anatomy of a Case
Asst. Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mount

Emerging Topics and/or Criminal Case of Interest
Subject and speaker to be determined. 

Week Four:

The Role of Other Partners in the Criminal Justice System

Summary: Other players in the criminal justice system have an important role such as the judiciary and defense attorneys and Grand Jury.  

The Judiciary
Presiding Judge David Rosenberg

The Role of the Defense Attorney
Defense Attorney Steve Sabbadini

Special presentation: Real DUI trial will be observed at this session.  

Week Five:

** Bonus session: WSPD Officer Scott Farnsworth will discuss the invaluable use of K-9 (dogs) to assist the police in protecting the public.  After Off. Farnsworth’s presentation, which will begin promptly at 5pm, there will be a live demonstration with K-9s from WSPD and other Yolo County law enforcement agencies.

Victim Services

Summary: What are the rights of victims? Learn about Marsy’s Law. We will talk about these issues and the services we offer victims. You will also hear from victims and survivors.

District Attorney Victim Services Program Manager Laura Valdes
Guest Victims/Survivors

Week Six:

Innovation  -  Restorative Justice - Collaborative Courts 

Summary: Learn about how partners in the Yolo County justice system have developed innovative and progressive courts to focus efforts on treating and helping defendants who commit crimes due to mental illness or addiction issues.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Chris Bulkeley

Week Seven:

Community Focus and Gangs

Summary: Learn what constitutes a gang? Who are the members? What does it mean to be a “gang” member? What can communities do to help prevent this problem and combat it?

Yolo County District Attorney’s Office
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens
District Attorney Investigator Aaron Moe

Week Eight:

Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers - addressing the schools to prison pipeline; Crating Partnerships; Data Driven Intervention and other Innovations in Justice;  Community Policing and Community Participation – “From Rhetoric to Reality – Where Do We Go from Here?”


Summary: Learn how Yolo County law enforcement is addressing the homeless issue in our community.  Reflections on the first seven weeks and a look forward to continue the dialogue. Closing remarks on community involvement and participation to achieve long-term public safety solutions and strategies. Graduation reception and ceremony.

Deputy District Attorney Diane Ortiz
Woodland Police Lieutenant Heath Parsons


Schedule varies and is subject to change

Applicants must be 18 years of age and reside in Yolo County.
For more information, please contact:
Wendy Wilcox
Yolo County District Attorney’s Office
301 Second Street
Woodland, CA 95695
(530) 666-8356

Citizens Academy Complete Application 2019 in Adobe Acrobat PDF Requires Adobe Reader

2018 Citizens Academy Graduates

Image depicts the Citizens Academy graduates from 2018

2017 Citizens Academy Graduates

2016 Citizens Academy Graduates

2015 Citizens Academy Graduates

Citizens Academy 2015

2014 Citizens Academy Graduates

2014 Citizens Academy Graduates

2013 Citizens Academy Graduates

2013 Citizen Academy Graduates

2012 Citizens Academy Graduates

2012 Citizen Academy Graduates

Multi-Cultural Community Council


The Multi-Cultural Community Council (MCCC) was created by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig and former MCCC chairperson Dr. Jesse Ortiz, a professor at Woodland Community College. The council is composed of a diverse group of individuals throughout Yolo County. The group also acts as an advisory committee to the DA. The mission of the MCCC is to seek fair and equal justice, facilitate understanding, ensure open communication, and promote community participation, education and diversity within the criminal justice system.

Join us for the MCCC Youth Leadership Academy on December 7th - 9th!

Youth Leadership Academy Flyer
Youth Leadership Academy Application

Image of Youth Leadership Academy Flyer, which is a downloadable PDF above the image.


1st Annual Multi-Cultural Justice Leadership Awards Luncheon

District Attorney Jeff Reisig & MCCC Chairperson Dr. Jesse Ortiz presenting the Public Schools Award to Kerry Callahan with presenter Gary Sandy.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig & former MCCC Chairperson Dr. Jesse Ortiz presenting the Public Schools Award to Kerry Callahan with presenter Gary Sandy.

MCCC Award Winners

2014 Award Winners (From Left to Right) Alexandra Lee-Jobe, Pastor Bill Habicht with his Daughter, Clarence Van Hook, Paul Muller, Kerry Callahan, Irene Santiago, Melissa Vega, & Lieutenant Tom Waltz.


Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig receives leadership award from retired UCDPD Police Chief Emeritus Calvin Handy. The Calvin E. Handy Leadership Award is a crime prevention and public safety award that recognizes individuals based on community oriented engagement and activities that are collaborative, cooperative, and proactive. This award highlights the importance of maintaining an environment where safety is essential to the successful mission of UC Davis and its surrounding communities.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig receives leadership award from retired UCDPD Police Chief Emeritus Calvin Handy. The Calvin E. Handy Leadership Award is a crime prevention and public safety award that recognizes individuals based on community oriented engagement and activities that are collaborative, cooperative, and proactive. This award highlights the importance of maintaining an environment where safety is essential to the successful mission of UC Davis and its surrounding communities.


1st Annual Youth Leadership Academy

The Yolo County Multi-Cultural Community Council partnered with the District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement to create a Youth Leadership Academy. At the Youth Leadership Academy,  high school students actively learn about the criminal justice system, discuss concepts of social and procedural justice, and engage in open dialogue between law enforcement and themselves concerning issues that affect the community. The Academy was designed with the goal of promoting acceptance, engagement, and leadership with youth in Yolo County communities. 

1st Annual Multi Cultural Community Council Youth Leadership Academy students.

Group circle discussion with MCCC Counsel member Griselda Castro , Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Yolo County Court Judge Sonia Cortes, Woodland Police Department Chief Luis Soler, Mayor of Woodland Angel Barajas, Office of Education staff members Ismael Hernandez and Lori Perez, and Victim Services.

Youth Leadership Academy students pose with motivational speaker Kevin Bracy. Bracy presented “Who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you headed in life?”

“I never planned for this…” Victim panel. Survivors tell their stories and experiences in the criminal justice system to the Youth Leadership Academy students.

Woodland Police Department officer presenting to students about the Department’s role in the community.