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President's 'Drug Czar' Observes SF's Unique Program For Defendants

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — President Barack Obama's "drug czar" visited San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday to get a first-hand look at a program that provides alternatives to incarceration for defendants in drug cases.

The Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, sat in the courtroom of Judge Lillian Sing, a presiding judge of the San Francisco Criminal Justice Center (CJC).

The center has been open for nearly four years and is assigned cases with defendants who may have underlying issues that lead to crime.

President's Drug Czar Visits SF To Observe 'Unusual' Court That Finds Alternatives To Incarceration

Cynthia Ming-mei Lee, a presiding judge of the San Francisco Superior Court, explained that the CJC blends the criminal justice system with offering "one-stop shopping" to defendants for "services they need."

According to Lee, those services prevent recidivism and address issues such as homelessness, along with substance abuse.

"I was impressed with his interests and with his wanting to bring the federal perspectives to a local jurisdiction like San Francisco," Sing said.

Judge Lee said Kerlikowski wanted to see how San Francisco's model works to possibly see if other courts around the country could adopt the program.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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