R2C National Consortium Quarterly Webinar (September 2016)


GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
So again, thank you all so much for joining us. We have a jam-packed
session for everybody today. But before I turn it
over to our panelists, I just want to briefly
talk about what the Right to Counsel
National Campaign is for those who don’t know. So the Right to Counsel
National Campaign is a BJA-led
initiative, and it’s spearheaded by a consortium
of national, state, and local criminal justice
stakeholders, community advocates, and policymakers
who are committed to ensuring the fulfillment
of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel and the effective
delivery of public defense services. Our mission is to
inform and engage policymakers, criminal justice
stakeholders, and the community on the importance of
meaningfully carrying out the Sixth Amendment
Right to Counsel. So a couple of our goals are
just to raise public awareness nationally about the importance
of providing skilled public defense services to criminal
defendants who cannot afford a lawyer, make sure that
everybody knows it is a constitutional right,
to spearhead broad-based initiatives by policy
makers in multiple sectors, both within and outside of the
criminal justice system to take appropriate action and to
develop a strategic vision of the role of public defense
that policy-makers and criminal justice leaders integrate
in the operational conduct and planning of the functions
of their respective agencies. So now, without further ado,
I’m going to turn it over to our great panelists. First, we’ll hear
from Madhu Grewal, at The Constitution Project. She’s a senior counsel there. She’ll talk about federal
legislation and national forum efforts. Next, we’ll hear
from Andy Davies. He’s the Director of Research at
the New York Office of Indigent Defense Legal
Services, and he’ll talk about the
importance of research. And lastly, we’ll
will turn it over to Josh Spickler
and Allison Gibbs. And Josh [INAUDIBLE]
community organization. And all of our
panelists today will be talking about the
different roles they can play, and how their organizations
are different in pushing policy changes and
legislative changes. So without further ado, I’m
going to turn it over to Madhu. MADHU GREWAL: All right,
thanks so much, Genevieve. My name is Madhu Grewal,
as Genevieve said. I’m senior counsel at
The Constitution Project. For those of you that
don’t know much about us, I just wanted to
share a bit about TCP. We’re a nonpartisan organization
based in Washington, DC working on a range of issues. So we don’t just work
on indigent defense. We work on a range of issues
from national security, privacy and surveillance, and
a broader criminal justice system. Our advocacy stems
from recommendations that are made by bipartisan
blue ribbon committees. And one of these
maybe as our national Right to Counsel Committee,
which was established in 2004 and includes former judges,
prosecutors, defense attorneys, and criminal justice experts. It’s released a
number of reports. And many of you may
have actually heard of our most recent
report called, Don’t I Need a Lawyer, about
the right to counsel at first judicial bail hearings. So due to our extensive
work on indigent defense, we often find ourselves
on Capitol Hill sharing our reports from
our committee members and our committee’s
recommendations in the hopes that some of those
recommendations may be taken up by
members of Congress. So today, I’ll just be sharing
what we know about efforts in the 114th Congress. And it’s not intended to be
comprehensive because we know that members of Congress
often have conversations with their constituents
or other advocates that we may not be aware of. But these are bills that
have been introduced, and you can find out
more about all of them by either going to the
members that have introduced them, their websites, or just
by simply googling the bill and finding out. You can even get the bill
text by looking them up. So the good news
about indigent defense is that the crisis is
getting more attention from Senator Grassley,
who wields a lot of power as the chair of the Senate
Judiciary Committee. He held a hearing last spring
about the right to counsel for indigent defendants charged
with misdemeanors, which was the first time at the
Senate Judiciary Committee had held a hearing on
that specific topic. And it was great to
have so many advocates in the room on that
date, just chatting not only with his staff but also
other members of the Judiciary Committee Staff about the
importance of paying attention to indigent defense. And it was a way for us to
get our foot in the door. So that was helpful. A number of members of
Congress, as we’ll discuss, are interested in
indigent defense that are engaged in
discussions with advocates and even public defenders in
their jurisdictions, which we find sometimes tends to
be more helpful than just national organizations in DC. So not so great news,
which isn’t exactly news, is that passing bills
is still difficult in the 114th Congress, and
it has been pretty difficult in the last couple of years. And many of you
may know that just from watching criminal
justice reform efforts be stalled in Congress. So we’re doing our best
to move things along. But the good news
is there’s interest. The bad news is it’s really hard
to get bills actually passed. So this is just a quick
list of some of the bills that I’m going to discuss today. As I said, it’s not intended
to be comprehensive, but we just wanted to
highlight some of the bills that we’ve been
in conversations– had conversations with
these offices about. So the first bill is the Justice
for All Reauthorization Act. This bill actually
passed the Senate. It was introduced in
February of this year. It unanimously passed
the Senate in June and is presently before the
House for consideration. So some provisions that you
may be interested in knowing more about– so it reinstates the
previous requirement of the Byrne-JAG grants program
that states develop and update annually. A strategic plan that
details how grants received under the program would
be used to improve the administration of the
criminal justice system and would include public
defenders in such a plan. It also requires
the Attorney General provide technical assistance
to states and local governments requesting support to meet their
Sixth Amendment obligations and authorizes funding
for this purpose. It also provides access to and
funding for post-conviction DNA testing, and it authorizes
funding for the capital litigation fund. So like I said, it
passed the Senate and is currently before the
House for consideration. I know that many advocates
are pretty involved in trying to get this
passed in the House. So that sort of advocacy is
actively happening right now. Next is the Equal
Justice Under Law Act. So this has actually been
introduced in both the House and the Senate. In the House, it was introduced
by Representative Maloney of New York in April. And he worked with
Senator Booker to have it introduced
in the Senate. It’s not identical
to the House version, but it’s really similar. So both bills would create
a federal cause of action that allows indigent
criminal defendants to file suit against state
and political subdivisions for systemic failure to provide
effective assistance of counsel in felonies. It also permits litigants to
file class action lawsuits against states and localities
for systemic failure to provide effective assistance
of counsel in felony cases. In the Senate
version, it would also require states to consult
with representatives from the public
defender community prior to distributing
Byrne-JAG funds. So these have both
been introduced in the House and the Senate,
but no further action has been taken. So they’ve been referred to
the appropriate committees but not marked up or
passed out of committee. The Gideon Act was
introduced by Senator Booker. Some of you may have heard
of this because the New York Times just did a really
interesting piece about it by Adam Liptak in
the last month, shortly after or maybe
right before Senator Booker introduced his bill. It would create
the defender office for Supreme Court
advocacy, which would be a federal nonprofit
corporation based in Washington DC, and it would
perform functions such as providing oral
arguments in criminal cases, drafting amicus briefs to
help develop criminal case law with federal issues– monitoring cases, filing
petitions for Supreme Court review and noteworthy
criminal cases, training appellate lawyers
on Supreme Court advocacy in non-capital criminal cases
involving federal issues, and even, if resources permit,
permitting appellate advocacy before appellate courts
across the country. So this is sort of
unique in the way that it was addressing
representation before the Supreme Court
in criminal justice issues. So I know that Senator Booker’s
office is really excited to introduce it, But since
introduction, no action has really been taken on this. So the next three
bills are actually from representative
Ted Deutch of Florida. And he has been pretty
involved in indigent defense issues for years now and
is a pretty strong advocate of our issues in the
House of Representatives. So the first bill is the
Independent and Effective Federal Defenders
Act, which would create an independent agency
within the executive branch to provide adequate
representation to indigent defendants
in criminal cases. It was sort of modeled
after the CFPB, just to be an
independent agency rather than having federal defenders
housed within the judiciary. And around the time
of introduction, we understand that
representative Deutsch received some important and critical
feedback about this bill from advocates and
federal defenders. Since then, we haven’t
really heard any updates about the bill. This bill is the Status of
the Sixth Amendment Act, again introduced by
Representative Ted Deutch. If enacted, it would require
all states in receipt of federal criminal
justice grant funding to annually submit a report
to the Department of Justice cataloging timing
of appointment, type of counsel assigned,
and case outcomes for all criminal
offenses and juvenile delinquency proceedings
in the previous year. The bill was introduced
in February of this year. But again, no further
action has been taken. And then, finally, the
National Center for the right to Counsel Act,
which would create in DC, a private nonprofit
corporation to provide financial support and financial
and substantive support for training programs to improve
delivery of legal services to indigent defendants. So what’s next? As you probably could
tell, all of these bills have been introduced
and reported– referred to the appropriate
committee for review with the exception of Justice
for All reauthorization, the rest are sitting
with committees. So at this point,
as I mentioned, in the 114th Congress,
it is really difficult to get things moving. But what we know works
is public support of indigent defense legislation
reforms and federal funding. So weighing in with members
of Congress about this issue– letters, emails, calls,
social media, op-eds, and media attention
all can go a long way with your members of
Congress and pushing them to act on these bills. So that’s it for me. Here’s my contact information. I know that we’re going to
take questions at the end, so I’m actually going
to turn it back over to Genevieve to continue. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Thanks. Thank you so much Madhu. That was really great. I won’t take any
more time, so we’re going to turn it over to
Andy to discuss his work. ANDY DAVIES: Thanks
very much, Genevieve. Can I just confirm
everybody can hear me? Oh, in actual fact, you
probably can’t respond because– GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
We can hear you. You’re good. ANDY DAVIES: OK, great. Thank you very much. I appreciate your patience. And thank you very much
to Genevieve [INAUDIBLE] and to the other presenters. This is a terrific panel. I’m excited to be here. What Genevieve asked
me to talk about was the impact that
research can have in reform to indigent defense
and indigent legal services around the country. My name is Andrew Davies. I am the Director of
Research for the New York Office of Indigent
Legal Services, which was created about five
years ago with a mandate to track data on services
provided around the state. So that was the result– that resulted in my
position being created. I think that probably
there’s a lot of interest in research in our field
right now because there is an expectation that improved
research with indigent defense can actually generate reform. And being asked to speak
about the relationship between research
and reform, I was led to think about how
that relationship really might operate in practice. It is true to say that, across
the country, there has been, I think, a growing interest in
increasing research capacity. Historically, it’s
not that there hasn’t been any interest
in indigent defense. [INAUDIBLE] groups spent decades
doing research in this field, as well as the IDA and ICDL,
the Sixth Amendment Center. These are all organizations
that have fundamentally responding to the appetite
among public defense providers and others for a generation
of real and true facts about their work– their work from what they
were doing on the ground. But nonetheless, I
think it’s true to say that in recent years, there’s
been an increase [INAUDIBLE] in-house research activities
within indigent defense. These are some
examples of people, including myself, who hold
positions in indigent defense institutions, where they
are full-time researchers, every single one of them. Margaret Gressens
in North Carolina is probably the one who’s been
in her position the longest, but a lot of these
positions are being created relatively
recently, which is why I say that I think
the interest in research in the field is
actually growing. And for those who don’t have
in-house research capacity, there’s an increasing number
of these collaborations with external research as well. So all of that’s
to make the point that there is an interest
in the field, in research. And understanding why there
is this interest in research in field, I think, does goes
back to probably what Genevieve was thinking when she
actually asked me to speak, which is there’s some
expectation that in building our ability to
collect information, do research on
ourselves, there might be the possibility that
that would result in reform and more resources leading
to long term possibly. There are other things
going on here that might explain why this is happening. There are things like data
collection [? management ?] that were in the
legislation that created my office, for example. But in as much as
there is an expectation that by doing research
it might generate reform, I think it’s an open question
as to how that really works. And I sort of think
about it this way. What we really have
to give you is facts– that information, as opposed
to augmentation and high principles, although
it doesn’t have to contradict those things. Research is the process
of getting hard facts. It’s the process of–
at its best, that is– it’s the process
of getting to the truth. And that’s what researchers do. They’re supposed to
investigate the real world and actually
describe it as it is. In as much as that
relates to reform, I think the way it really
works is that indigent defense agencies that have
researchers that can be said to be in
possession of the facts, are committed to doing
research probably can generate a certain amount of
credibility for themselves in being seen as
people who are really interested in understanding
the work that they do. And their thought–
there might be a relationship based around
the production of reform. But in explaining
this kind of idea that I have of how research
and reform actually interact, I’m trying to make the point
that I don’t think that simply by doing research
necessarily produce reform. But I do think that sometimes
they can be related. And so what I want to do in
the last of the 10 minutes or so that I have
is talk about how they can be related in the
event that anybody out there is thinking about adding research
capacity to their agency or something like that. This might give you an
idea of how this could work, how this could help. So as I said, I think that some
of the things that research does in our field, in the
broader sense, it reflects– it’s a process by which
we are seeking the truth. But there are certain kinds
of research activities that you might think
would produce reform. If you’re performing
and monitoring websites of indigent
service providers, maybe that kind of research
could be used to track reform. If you’re tracking and exposing
the fact that indigent defense services are inequitable
across geographical areas, maybe that can generate reform
by exposing the inequities in those services. If you’re using research
to actually evaluate whether the indigent
services are working right– maybe that kind of thing could
be used to generate reform. And if you’re using research
to think about the future and how defense services
can be provided better, what the impact would be,
maybe that kind of research can now generate reform. So again, I’m suggesting to you
not that research will always generate reform, but that there
are certain kinds of research that we can reasonably
expect might do that. And certainly these are
the kinds of research. These four kinds, in
addition to others, are the kinds of research
that I and my colleagues in the indigent defense
field do tend to focus on. But again, I don’t think that
the relationship to reform is inevitable. What I do think that research
gives you are these things. I don’t think that
research gives you increased credibility
in the sense that it improves your knowledge
of yourself and your work. It does put you in the
possession of facts. And it makes you into people
who are taking responsibility for the defense function
and actually are interested in knowing more about
how it operates. And also, and this is perhaps
a slightly more cynical point, in doing research,
it provides you with a measure of
control over the facts and evidence that are out there
over how indigent defense is functioning. This is quite
important in the event that you are kind of attacked
by a hostile entity who has their own information
on indigent defense who thinks you’re failing them. Unfortunately, obviously,
it’s important for you to have an independent
grasp of the information in order to fend off
situations like that. So this is what I think
research gives you. It gives you facts,
and it allows you to sort of present yourself
as a credible custodian of their service because
you are performing research. Now how might that
relate to reform? As I say, that’s still an
open question in my mind. In other words, the question,
will it actually change anything, is an open one. And so what I’ve done is I have
identified five or six stories of recent or
not-so-recent attempts at indigent defense reform
where research played a role. And in telling these stories
over the next nine or 10 minutes that I have left,
I want to explore the ways that research did or did
not play a part in actually producing reform,
and try and draw some lessons on how that
works or how it doesn’t work. In terms of the four
kinds of research that I actually describe that
might produce reform earlier, first, is monitoring
and oversight. And the example that I
wanted to draw on here is actually one of ours. In New York, our
agency, the Office of Indigent Legal
Services has been expected that were are created
to monitor, oversee, and make recommendations to
improve the provisions of indigent legal
services across New York. And so that’s what we do. And our research function,
although it’s not limited to this, has
spent a sizable amount of time and effort
simply in tracking the provisions of indigent
legal services around the state. And so that’s counting
caseloads and how many people work in the system and
that kind of thing. What we began doing
from very early on is producing a
regular annual report. This document they send [? to ?]
[? which ?] public defenders around New York, around
the [? country. ?] And there was a formula that
underlay this calculation. And first year we produced
it, you’ll see the entire [INAUDIBLE],, we calculated that
New York needed to allocate $111 million more dollars to
public defense to actually bring it up standard– to bring it down to [INAUDIBLE]
We published that report and have absolutely no response. I don’t even know
if anybody read it. It is completely ignored
as far as I can tell. But we were doing this. We were just doing
this, monitoring this. But we were taking
seriously our responsibility to actually establish what the
needs in public defense in New York were. And then, a few years later,
the Hurrell-Harring [INAUDIBLE] came along. You may have heard about it. But essentially, it
was settled in 2014, and five out of 37 of
state counties in New York were defendants in the suit. And as a result of the
settlement received, we’re required to receive
an injection of cash to meet the case
loads [INAUDIBLE].. And so at that
moment, three years after we’ve been writing
this report to a complete– an audience of zero people, the
executive branch of government came to us and said, how
much money is there actually going to come to us for
each case [INAUDIBLE] in these five counties? And we’ve been doing
this analysis a lot. And so we said, well, you
know, it’s very simple. It’s $111 million
for the whole state. For those five
counties, $10.4 million. And somewhat to my surprise,
the executive branch put $10.4 million precisely
into the budget that year. And that will be done
to those counties to provide for their casework. That was a very proud moment
for me as a researcher. Because that was one of those
moments when all of that thankless task of doing
this research in the past suddenly generates a
massive infusion of cash. But so what I reserve for
you– if you did the research and we produced all these
numbers [INAUDIBLE] out there, our research didn’t
produce any reform, though, until that litigation happened. And this is one of the things
that I want to leave you with. Research may not produce
reform all by itself. But in this case, if
you’re doing monitoring, and if you’re doing
tracking in the background, it does put you in a
position to produce the most credible possible
answer to a question that it’s addressed. And in this case,
because we actually have done the
analysis already, we can produce that answer
almost immediately and explain what we’re doing
with what we have done. And it was very
persuasive to people, persuasive enough
that it did actually produce this infusion of cash
in the amount that we asked for. So this is kind of a backwards
process, if you like. We perform our
monitoring in order to devise solutions to problems
that other people haven’t recognized yet, so then when
three years later, somebody recognizes it, now,
there’s a problem, our solution is there waiting. And so while the research
didn’t create the reform, I think you would say
that [? without ?] most of the research, the
reform wouldn’t have taken the shape that it did. So there’s a lesson, I think. Research may not
directly produce reform, but there is no question it
is instrumental in changing a few things. I want to mention, also, the
[INAUDIBLE] Texas caseload study. There are a variety of
other studies [INAUDIBLE] have this character of producing
a solution to a question that hasn’t been asked yet. The second thing I mentioned
was exposing inequity. Now I see something
that you may have heard of the LEAD project
in Seattle, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. But you may not know that
the LEAD project originally– it’s now a large-scale,
cooperative, collaborative [? pension ?] between the
police agency in Seattle and some others–
and other agencies. But the complete timeline of
the development of this program goes back to some
research independently in King County,
particularly [INAUDIBLE] who, in collaboration
with the ACLU began writing a report on
disproportionate minority contact with police in Seattle,
exposing ineptitude there [INAUDIBLE]. And in doing that, she created
such a drumbeat of concern about the fact that young
African-American men were being approached,
interrogated by police more than anybody else. But ultimately, the police
came to her and said, well, what do you
want to do about it? And beginning that
conversation, she then had the opportunity
to suggest the LEAD program to develop
the cooperation that made that program happen. And so there’s a
story to be told here, where Lisa and her
collaborators do the research. They share the [INAUDIBLE]. They expose the inequities. They create a conversation,
and reform happens. And now, they’re [INAUDIBLE]
quite successful. Of course this story,
too, wasn’t that simple. And it’s not simply the case
that Lisa doing the research created the reform. She did the research. She was challenged by the
police to fix the problem. There’s a wonderful
causation [INAUDIBLE] there [? from ?] the Huffington
Post, where she says, I suddenly realized when they
challenged me to do this, I didn’t know what the solution
was any better than they did. So the research, in this case,
didn’t necessarily show you a solution, the problem was. But it did expose the
entity, and it did, again, play a role in producing reform. So– and I have
my Justice Breyer quote there to say that
sometimes exposing inequity is a useful thing to push
forward conversations. And to return to my
sort of theme here, research may not produce reform,
but it might play a role. So are we evaluating programs? Evaluating programs is where
you’re asking the question, will what we’re doing
make a difference? Is it working? Are we producing the effect that
we think we want to produce? And there’s lots of
evaluation research out there. But in defense, although
[? mostly ?] [? an ?] examples is Doug Colbert’s work on
providing counsel to people in bail hearings in Maryland. And the story in Maryland
is that, 20 years ago now, Doug Colbert did an experiment
where he provided counsel to people at bail
hearings in Maryland, showed a lot of the defects. People were more satisfied
with their system. Their incarceration was
reduced because the days that they spent
incarcerated were reduced. And their actual bail conditions
were more lenient [INAUDIBLE].. A lot of the effect then,
unlike Lisa Daugaard’s research, which simply exposed inequity,
Doug Colbert’s research was showing you the solution. It was actually saying
the solution here is to provide counsel
at bail hearings. And ultimately, 20 years
later, after litigation, and legislation, and
all kinds of disputes, council bail hearings is
now required in Maryland. Needless to say, this was
also a very complicated story. So the story again is, the
research is showing you the solution is valid. It can show you that it works. But in the case
of Maryland, they have to endure the most
extraordinary opposition from professional groups,
bail bondsmen in particular, and within the legislature
in order to actually get this done. So we set the
stage in this case, but got have a lot of
endurance to actually produce the kinds of impacts
we are hoping to have. I’m aware, by the way, that
I’ve just hit 15 minutes, so I’m gonna wrap up. Other examples of
evaluations of programs which has resulted in
reforms include the program of social work provisions
in the state of Kentucky, which is also operating in
the same way in the sense that research was done,
showed its impact, legislative support followed. And then the final category
that I talked about was predicting the future. I’m not quite sure
this is a good title for this type of research. But what I’m talking
about here is– I see the Missouri study. Some of you may have heard
about the Missouri study– ABA’s studies of
caseloads, which was essentially set [INAUDIBLE]
what public defenders should take on as far as
case loads in Missouri before they can be
considered to be overloaded. So the important
part of this story, actually, is that this was a
response to a challenge that was issued by the state
auditor in Missouri which said that, public defender,
you may claim that you’re overloaded with cases,
but the truth is, your data aren’t good
enough to show it. And so the state public
defender went away and said, OK, maybe you’re right. Maybe this extremely
sophisticated study where they established that–
where they, for the first time, really did begin tracking their
time and their case loads. And it showed that Maryland
really [INAUDIBLE].. And so in this case,
predicting the future may not be the right word. But effectively, people
asked, what is it that defenders really need? If you can imagine a future
where the defenders had [INAUDIBLE],, what
would that look like? And this study was there to
really answer my question. Ultimately, though,
the story of Missouri is, I would argue, one of
equivocal success at best. The requested funding, to me,
became [INAUDIBLE] has not been forthcoming. And as you probably saw on
the news in recent weeks, the state public
defender resorted to a point in the
governor’s [INAUDIBLE],, following which the governor
has appointed new people to the state public
defender’s oversight board, which could be seen as an
act of political retaliation. I would never, as
a state employee, deign to speculate about the
motives of an executive branch officer. But nevertheless, the
politics of this situation is so toxic now that it’s
hard to see reform actually coming out of that
study in the future– in the near future. Yes, I’m doing some
research [INAUDIBLE].. So here’s my overview. My point was that
if you do research, it will give you
facts at its best. If you have facts
at your disposal, you can act with
increased credibility as a public defender. You can present yourself
as a responsible custodian of your function in
a justice system. And in the event that
stars are aligned, you may actually get reform. And when I look
at these studies, this is what I think the
stars aligning means. If you do research
and you produce an answer for which
a question is asked, then your research
might produce reform. If you’re doing
research which shows that your solution to a problem
is clear, validated, obvious, and successful,
then your research might result in reform. If you do research
that produces respect among your colleagues
in the justice system or your expertise
[INAUDIBLE] responsibility, then your research
might result in reform. People might come
to you for answers. If your research can show
the value of what you do– and the classic
example for us is that early intervention by
counsel reduces jail costs. Those values can create broader
alliances in the justice system that only the defense
[INAUDIBLE] and as such, that can allow your research
to produce reform. And lastly, if your
research can be supported by a sustained
effort of litigation and a conservative and
continual commitment to getting the
reform that you need, well, sometimes
that is necessary. And in Maryland, it certainly
was necessary [INAUDIBLE] for 20 years. In Missouri,
[INAUDIBLE] had to be necessary in the absence
of that sometimes. In the absence of
some of these things, research can just be shelved
and won’t produce reform at all. But it sometimes can. And so those are my
conclusions about how research and reform interact. I did not mean to
be pessimistic. I meant to be optimistic,
but also realistic about the prospects for
reform in this area. So thank you very much. I believe I perhaps have
to shift the ball back to [INAUDIBLE] myself. But I’ll be excited to
take questions later. Thank you very much again. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Thank
you Andy, so much. It’s really wonderful to see
the roles indigent defense research can play in
making larger changes. And also, as we just
received a comment from Corey Stoughton, who
said that as a person formerly involved with the
Hurrell-Harring litigation, I just want affirm Andy’s
point that we never could have gotten real
reform through the litigation without his research. So Andy, thank you again. Your research is very
much appreciated. And now, last but
certainly not least, I’m going to turn it over
to Allison Gibbs and Josh Spickler. JOSH SPICKLER:
Hey, this is Josh. And Allison Gibbs
is here with me. I’m the executive
director of Just City. We are in Memphis, Tennessee. I was in the public
defender’s office here for about
five or six years, and Just City was
created last year. Out of some of the work I was
doing in the public defender’s office, a lot of that work was
more community-facing thing than a lot of public
defenders’ offices were comfortable with
or certainly used to. We began just to tell the
story of indigent defense in a little bit of a
more compelling way by doing things as simple
as opening a Twitter account and a Facebook page. And that just sort of grew into
much more community outreach from that office, and it grew
into the need for a community partner that was independent
of the government agency that is the public defender
in Shelby County. And so we got some
pretty bold funding from the local
philanthropic community, and we opened the doors
to Just City last summer. Allison, who was our
first official employee, is here beside me, and I’ll
let her introduce herself. ALLISON GIBBS: Hello, everyone. My name is Allison
Gibbs, and I’m the Director of Programs and
Operations for Just City. And Josh gave you a great
background on why we developed, and a little bit
about who we are. On the left slide, we’ll
talk more about us. But just to give you
an overview of what we’ll be discussing
today, we’re talking about community advocacy and
the use of multimedia engagement and our approach to
working in the community, both through direct service
for those that are directly impacted by the justice
system, as well as having advocacy opportunities
for the lay person to get involved and
make sure that they’re sharing their voice with
critical stakeholders so that we can
advocate for change and then also talking
about how we’ve been using multiple forms
of media to do just that. So without further ado, we
are going to move forward with our presentation. JOSH SPICKLER: I’ll give
you a chance to read that. That’s me there,
by the way, in case you are curious what I
looked like in mid-sentence six months ago. We have some signs that we
let people draw on that say, “In Just City” a certain thing. And I made that one for
one of our live events, which we’ll talk about
in just a second. You can see some of our vision
and mission in that statement right there. I hope we’ve had
time to review that. Generally, though, we’re
organized around three– we call them pillars– service, advocacy, and reform. And the serve component are
things that are generally outside the scope of what
public defenders offices are tasked with doing,
either by statute or, in our case,
the county charter limits what our public
defender’s office can do. And so what Just City can do– I’m an attorney–
and so in the future, hopefully, we’ll
have more attorneys. We’ve had law students. We can address some of the
collateral consequences that the PD’s office just
doesn’t have the capacity to get to. And those are
pictures of checks. Because one of our programs
is an expungement program called the Clean Slate Fund. We’ve raised money to pay
the rather expensive $450 expungement fee that Tennessee
has when we can locate people who qualify for the very
narrow expungement provision that Tennessee law has. And so we’ve expunged over
120 people now, in the past– well, it’s been
two or three years. The problem existed in the
public defender’s office before Just City did. So we’re directly serving
people in that way. And the advocacy would
be, again, things like we started doing in the
public defender’s office– just talking to school
groups, talking to reporters on social media,
speaking to civic groups, speaking to lots of media
outreach, lots of pitching of stories, both
locally and nationally, and just creating
an area of expertise that media are not
used to looking to, and that is defense perspective. And we’ve had a lot of
success with that here locally and our
building even better relationships nationally
with some reporters and organizations
that are concerned with their criminal justice. And in their reform
work, which is another big part of what we do
is directly with legislators. And in Tennessee, Nashville
is our state capital. We have a lobbyist on
contract year round now, for the first time, helping us
develop our legislative agenda for the session that
will kick off in January. We dabbled in that a
little bit last year with the same lobbyists. And I’ll let Allison talk
in just a few minutes about some of the work she did
with some students going up to Nashville to talk
about a specific bill. Our service of
expungement has sort of bled into our reform work. We’re trying really hard
to get some expansion of the expungement
provisions in Tennessee. We’re trying really hard to
get that fee of $450 reduced to something more reasonable,
if not eliminated altogether because of the narrowness of the
expungement law in Tennessee. And so as we prepared to support
those three pillars of service, reform, and advocacy,
we knew we needed to get the community involved. You remember that
picture I had holding up in the first slide
that said, “We listen.” We’ve convened lots
of public events over the first year that
give people an opportunity to speak about what the criminal
justice system means here in Memphis, and big
parts of the country, but especially in the
South, criminal justice means just a couple of things. Punishment, stiffer
penalties– the things that we’re trying to unravel. I know a lot of us on
this call are involved in peeling back the
layers that we’ve been putting on the criminal
justice system for 40 years– but trying to give
it a fresh look here in Memphis with
stories from people who’ve been involved in the system. These folks in this slide
are looking at some art. We convene an art exhibition
for a bunch of young artists who had ideas about what
criminal justice meant to them. And they weren’t, of
course, the things that criminal justice means
to big swaths of the country. It was a great, great event. We’ve done some other
storytelling events where we had people
very involved with the criminal
justice [INAUDIBLE].. It just works in concert
with some of the news media that we’ve tried to generate– to put a different light on
the criminal justice system– to expose the bloated
nature of this system, to expose the expense, the
ineffectiveness of this system through different channels. And so in addition to
expungement, the Clean Slate Fund, down there there’s
an expungement order. We got a couple of other
areas of direct service that fit under that pillar. And two actually are
community bail funds that we have launched
in Nashville, which is about 200 miles
up the road from Memphis. And then we stalled
out right now in Memphis because
of some frustrations with our local
judiciary, I’ll say. ALLISON GIBBS: To borrow Andy
Davies terminology, stars are not being fully aligned– there we go. JOSH SPICKLER: Exactly. The stars are not fully aligned
for the Memphis Community Bail Fund. The Nashville Community Bail
Fund– as far as we can tell, it’s the sixth or seventh
one in the country. You’re all probably familiar
with the Bronx Freedom Find and Brooklyn
Community Bail Fund. They are well ahead of most
other community bail funds, but we’ve bailed out
13 people in Nashville. We’ve had 99.9% appearance
rates for all the folks there. Memphis, we’ve bailed
out three folks just to try to kickstart
it, and we had to stop. But those folks have
been largely successful in their direct service. But in addition to helping
a few people a year, we’re also generating data
about their appearance rates, about the outcomes
that are going– we expect a very
different from outcomes they would have
experienced had they been kept in pre-trial detention. And we have been
pretty successful fundraising in both communities. Nashville has
raised its own money and Memphis is raising its
own money for its fund. And the third area where we
are hoping to directly impact people who are involved
in the justice system is participatory defense,
which Allison is heading up. And that’s just this idea that
communities can participate in the defense of
their community members when they come in contact
with the justice system. This would be the things
that good social workers, and good investigators,
and good defense attorneys have been doing for years. [INAUDIBLE] and trying
to [INAUDIBLE] framework for it and a place,
a space for it for communities to learn what it
means when one of their members goes into the criminal
justice system– to have a place to
turn to understand the complexities of it, to
know the right questions to ask and then to come
alongside that person and to support them as
they go through the system. ALLISON GIBBS: And
really quickly, just provide a little
bit more, I know that the folks with Silicon
Valley De-Bug and the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project are
members of [INAUDIBLE] counsel. And that is–
participatory defense is a concept that they’ve fully
fleshed out and developed, and they train us on. We’re preparing to launch
that in addition [INAUDIBLE] with one of our social
workers this month. And so moving
forward, to talk more about the advocacy opportunities
that Josh alluded to earlier. These are just picture
examples of some of the things that we’ve done to
really have a community talk about criminal justice
and what it means to them. And I always like
to think of advocacy as one of those more
challenging pieces of what we do because it’s very easy,
as you all know to, say, get a– not easy, but it’s easier
to get a legislator to change a piece of
legislation or oppose a piece of legislation
and get it to pass. Or on the other
side of the service, to actually create a program
where you get people out of jail or write a check for
$450 and get their record expunged. Both of those things
are very tangible, and it’s easier to put
numbers and metrics around. But advocacy, I like to think
of as the hearts and mind piece of what we do. And that is way more
difficult because someone can say, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think everyone should
have a fair shake, but they’re actions later
on or how they truly feel is different. And so with what we’re trying
to do with our evens, our think pieces, our articles– all
of the different ways to kind of reach people’s
different fences, it could muddy the
waters and to get them to think deeper
and differently about criminal
justice in our city. And I’m sure it was a
trend across the country, but especially in the Deep
South in Memphis Tennessee, there’s a rhetoric that
is very racially biased, racially based, fear based
on being tough on crime– tough on crime, tough on crime. But when you peel
back the layers of, OK, what does that
actually mean, when we throw them in the
cage and lock away the key, but they eventually get out. What is the next step? And there often is
not time and place for people to consider that and
to think about that clearly. And our events have provided
folks with the opportunity to reflect on that and to
think differently on maybe what the media currently
is talking about. So what you have here are a
picture of– the very first one to left under “SALT.” It’s a series of shows
that we actually worked with a local pastor to create– not religious in
tone, but he just happen to be a creator
that has a theology degree. And he’s created
a series of shows that allow different portions of
the community to come together around a theme. So this one where you have a
young lady in a school uniform, it actually was out of school,
and it was called “Tolerance.” And we were talking about
tolerance in the justice system, tolerance in
education and what it means to have zero tolerance. That middle piece is from
that See Justice show that Josh referenced
earlier, where a collection of young
artists put together their different interpretations
of the justice system. And on the right, we
convened a book club talking about Bryan
Stevenson’s memoir Just Mercy in
anticipation for his visit to Memphis later that fall. Some more [INAUDIBLE] we see
opportunities that we have pictures here– having fundraisers that kind
of mix fun with something that’s serious. So right here with
Plunge to Expunge, it was a fundraiser for
our Clean Slate Fund. And it was dunk tank, and we
had local Memphis personalities and celebrities, so to speak,
be participants in the dunk tank and help us raise
money that way. To the right of that is a
picture from our Top-Cop Talk, which is a series of
community conversations around Memphis’s police director
search and policing in Memphis. And it wasn’t planned
this way, but it happened to be timed well or
not well, I guess you could say, with the Philando Castille and
the Alton Sterling shooting. It was something that our
community wanted to talk about. In the interest of time,
I will skip the last two. Another thing that we’ve done,
though, is youth advocacy. And these are pictures of
ways that we’ve involved youth in making sure that they
understand the system and have a way to voice their
understandings of the system as well their questions and
concerns around the system. So to the left is a picture
of our Day on the Hill where students testify
in a subcommittee around the expungement bill
that we were pushing forth. To the right of
that is a picture of that book club
of the same group of students that were
reading the new Jim Crow, as well as Just Mercy
to have a better grounding and
understanding of the system before they kind of had
a case study to look at with the Expungement Bill. And then to the right of that is
our picture of the partnerships that we have with Bridges,
which is a local youth organization here in Memphis. And they have a community
and police program where youth and
police come together to talk about different
issues that they’re facing in putting forth
potential solutions for their city. JOSH SPICKLER: And I know
we’re running out of time. We want to leave
time for questions. So I’ll try to do this
in about two minutes. We talked a little
bit about social media earlier– nothing
groundbreaking here, but we do try to engage our
followers and our allies when we need them. Here are some of our numbers,
which may not seem like much, but keep in mind that we are
a criminal justice reform organization devoted
to indigent defense. ALLISON GIBBS: And a year old. JOSH SPICKLER: And a year old. So we’re pretty proud of
gaining some traction. And locally, we are known. And so we’re very proud
of that, and we’re very proud to support
the public defenders here who are becoming even
better known and have, actually, a larger social
media exposure than we do– sort of residual and
continued from my time there and with some other really
talented folks working there. So we’ve activated those
folks on a couple of occasions at the General Assembly
for the Expungement Bill that we mentioned last year. Most recently, a couple of
weeks ago, the [INAUDIBLE] communicate with
city council members who [INAUDIBLE] here in
Memphis were debating a decriminalization
of marijuana ordinance and have had a
surprising response to our calls for action, which
we try to limit so as not to overwhelm people. Nothing hugely revolutionary
about that kind of work. It’s just that we’re
trying to stay focused on shrinking the criminal
justice system with a defender perspective. We included a couple of videos
that want them to watch. And this one is
one that we helped produce for the public
defender’s office. They have a really
fantastic origin story. I would encourage you to go
to defendshelbyco.org or click on that link that Allison
just put in the comments, that Vimeo link to watch
the six-minute video, which is the origin story of
the public defender’s office in Shelby County. It’s the third oldest public
defender office in the country. It’s a fascinating
story from 1917, and I’d encourage
you to watch that. We helped produce that with
some folks in that office as one of our
partnerships with them. Thanks a lot. We’ll entertain any questions
about any of the work that we do. Thanks for having us. GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
Thank you so much. And I really encourage
everyone to go look at those videos,
especially that last one that Josh just mentioned and
Allison just linked [? at. ?] I’ve seen it multiple times. It’s really, really great. So I know we’re
running short on time, but we’d love to address
any questions or comments. Oh, just really quickly, this
is up on the screen, sorry. If you want to know more
about the Right to Counsel national campaign,
you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We use a hashtag–
#right2counsel. And then our website is there. And then if you
have any questions, please raise your hand or take
it into the Q&A box down below. [SIDE CONVERSATION] All right, well since no
one has any questions, my information is there. Again, my name is
Genevieve Citrin, the Senior Program
Associate here at the Justice Programs Office. And I work on the
Right to Counsel Project, along with
Preeti Menon, who’s the project director. And both of our
information is there. And if you any questions,
please feel free to e-mail us. Also, everybody’s
contact information is in this PowerPoint
presentation, and we will be sending that out
to everybody later this week. And we will also be putting a
link to the recording of that. So that’s it. Thank you all so
much for listening, and thank you so much
to our four panelists. You really did a wonderful
job, and we all learned a lot. And so thank you very
much for participating. Have a great rest
of your afternoon.

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