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Government

Nov. 7, 2022

Why 21st-century public defense needs to shake the foundation of its own leadership

When I became the head of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office in 2019, as with many city agencies, the department operated under a traditional hierarchy where the most power and responsibility sat at the top.

Public Defenders are notorious for taking on "the system." As those who challenge prosecutors, police, and inherent racism and classism in the criminal system, public defenders are agents of change seeking to rebalance the scales of justice and in some cases, re-imagine the system altogether.

When I became the head of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office in 2019, as with many city agencies, the department operated under a traditional...

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