LOS ANGELES, Calif.— The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s motion to create a plan for strengthening investments in the County’s justice system by ensuring Public Defender’s have the budgeted resources and staffing capacity to sustainably address its case backlog as a result of COVID-19 and provide legal representation for low-income residents, who rely heavily on indigent defense services.
“Our public defense is one of the most important services that the County provides to vulnerable and low-income communities,” shared Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a backlog of cases, that threatens the constitutional right to due process for millions of residents. I’m proud that the Board has voted in support of properly resourcing our public defense system to ensure that residents who rely on Indigent Defense Services have legal representation and are connected to appropriate alternatives to incarceration.”
In January of this year the Board of Supervisors voted to receive a data assessment from the County’s Public Defender on proposed reforms to support the County’s commitment to alternatives to incarceration and address the challenges with meeting client caseloads due to the pandemic – approximately 90% of trails were postponed without resolution. The data shared substantiated the need for indigent services, revealing that the Public Defender represents over 1.2 million residents who are accused of misdemeanor and felony charges and of that, 79% of residents who rely on indigent services were Black and Latinx.
“Supervisor Mitchell’s priority to Empower Indigent Defense Services in the County of Los Angeles is a critical step to implementing meaningful justice reform. This motion lifts our leadership and advocacy for the indigent accused and empowers our constitutional warriors to fight the crisis of mass incarceration,” shared Ricardo D. Garcia, Los Angeles County’s Public Defender “I am deeply honored and excited to continue working with this Board to advance the vision of Care First, Jail Last and the Public Defender’s vision to be the finest client-centered criminal defense firm in the nation, providing a beacon for evolutionary and revolutionary changes in the justice system.”
This is the first of series of justice reform policies Supervisor Mitchell will be putting forward leading up to a Juneteenth freedom and justice day of action. The motion instructs the Chief Executive Officer to work with the Public Defender and Director of Personnel to develop a plan for meeting the critical needs of the Public Defenders 2021-2022 Fiscal Year budget requests which includes the constitutional mandate to provide indigent defendants with quality legal representation in criminal cases.
In addition, the motion calls for a recruitment plan in collaboration with the County’s Anti-Racism and Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. To view motion click here.