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Why We Need to Support the Public Defenders Office

The public defenders program has a 2% recidivism (people going back to jail) rate, compared to probations 20-30%. It's more effective: So why is the Public Defender having to beg for crumbs to keep his program going?

PreTrial Release Programs Eventually, being able to close entire wings of jails could save $185 per day / per person incarcerated.

Both the Public Defender's Office and the Probation Department have pretrial release programs that gave presentations for funding. The Public Defender's Office got a grant for a new program to reduce jail populations. Public Defender Steve Garrett gave an impressive, and very polite, speech on the effects of over incarceration and racial injustice within the criminal justice system. While he was able to keep a very neutral bipartisan tone, Supervising Attorney Tiffany Synnott came in with the passion. It was definitely one of the more quotable presentations, and worth the watch! Sis came in like, let me tell you what the what is while my boss over here trying to be a diplomat. Here's how this important and successful program works:

The Public Defender's office was able to negotiate with the Sheriff’s Department to get a list of newly arrested people who could be available for early release at 3am every morning. They go to the jail and under the umbrella of attorney client privilege they screen for needs. They offer 4 screenings to assess for housing, mental health, adverse child experience, and substance abuse. They then try to connect people with links to those services, along with a coordinated discharge. They also offer expungement services to further reduce recidivism and increase earning potential as well as access to services. Here’s the stats on their screening: 70-80% need a social worker follow up 43% need housing support 48% need mental health support 37% Substance Abuse issues

These stats show that those coming in contact with the carceral system overwhelmingly need care. Not cops.

So far the program is able to free about ½ of the people they screen. The public defenders program has a 2% recidivism rate, compared to the probations 20-30%. That means, less people go back to jail from the Public Defender's program. The probation department has a standardized test that automatically assesses risk based on their record. Either they stay in jail or they have the option to get deeper into the system with electronic tracking release or an offer to exchange their rights for other probation programs.

Steve Garrett goes on to talk about how heart warming it was for his attorneys and community members to donate time and money to release services. Anyone else feeling like something isn’t quite right here? Our tax dollars mainly go to arrest and incarcerate community members to the tune of 71%. And public defenders and community members have to donate money to provide support for reducing recidivism rates.

Here's the video of Steve Garrett's Presentation w/ the Keepin It Real from Tiffany Synnott

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