The LA County Public Defender’s Office proposed the Public Defense Pilot Program to develop a global, collaborative approach to resentencing indigent defense clients, supporting the successful reentry of resentenced and released LA County individuals back into their communities. The LA County Public Defender’s Office will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow to implement a collaborative approach to resentencing, explicitly improving the resentencing referral and reentry relief services systems in the Public Defender’s purview.
This fellowship project begins on July 25, 2022, and ends on July 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of July 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on August 1, 2022.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is responsible for the incarceration of nearly 100,000 adults, operating the second largest prison system in the United State. Racial disparities are widespread in the justice system and while incarceration has declined, men and women of color in California continued to be incarcerated at higher rates than white men and women. Black men made up more than one-quarter (28%) of men incarcerated by the state — nearly five times higher than their share of all men in California. And Black women were also overrepresented – imprisoned at a rate of 171 per 100,000 – more than five times the imprisonment rate of white women. Los Angeles County (LA County) is the largest contributor to the carceral system in California – with nearly 30% of all adults admitted to CDCR coming from the County. These shocking numbers reflect the broader history of the intersection between race, health, and incarceration across LA County and the entire United States.
In recent years, Californians and their elected representatives have expressed their desire to reduce reliance on incarceration, calling for an end to excessive sentencing practices. This includes expanding procedures that return individuals whose lengthy sentences did not match their culpability to their respective families and communities. Los Angeles County embraces this opportunity, taking critical steps to create an effective and scalable model for de-carceration, cost-savings, reuniting families, and repairing communities. In 2022, the LA County Public Defender’s Office proposed a robust program designed to assist in remedying the over-incarceration that has gone on for decades in the State – the Public Defense Pilot Program. The Public Defense Pilot Program will develop a global, collaborative approach to resentencing indigent defense clients, supporting the successful reentry of resentenced and released LA County individuals back into their communities. After recently receiving a substantial funding investment from the State, the Public Defender’s Office is now prepared to design and initiate the new resentencing program in the County.
The LA County Public Defender’s Office will partner with FUSE Corps to implement a collaborative approach to resentencing, explicitly improving the resentencing referral and reentry relief services systems. The FUSE Executive Fellow will analyze workflows, recommend process improvements, and build robust communication pathways between teams. The Executive Fellow will also work to collect data and monitor progress on the Public Defense Pilot Program. These efforts will enable the Public Defender’s Office to substantially reduce the number of incarcerated individuals whose cases originated in LA County – supporting the transformation of the local criminal justice system from one that operates the world’s largest jail to one that is a decentralized, restorative, and robust community-based system of care.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the executive fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work may be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE fellow and the host agency.
Starting in July 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct an initial listening tour and quickly build relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, primarily with staff across the Public Defender’s Office, LA County Courts, the District Attorney (DA), and Workforce Development Department. The Executive Fellow will conduct a landscape analysis of the current processes within the Public Defender’s Office for resentencing in LA County, explicitly focusing on resentencing referrals and reentry services. This will include a review of resentencing workflows, evaluating the recent progress on the Public Defense Pilot Program, determining gaps, and assessing barriers to smooth and efficient workflow and communication between the Public Defender’s Office and external partners. Primarily, the Executive Fellow will offer recommendations for process improvements around the assessment of C-files – determining workflows to improve the collection, review, and sharing of information with stakeholders, like the DA and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), in a timely manner.
The Executive Fellow will bring a coalition of internal stakeholders together to ensure alignment in the strategy for these changing workflows. The Executive Fellow will begin implementing the new structure of workflows for resentencing referrals, ensuring DEI is centered in the design of any new processes. This will include building robust communication structures between the DA, CDCR, Public Defender teams, moving beyond traditional forms of communication, such as letter writing, to utilize technology and video communications.
The Executive fellow will build out comprehensive criteria that identifies all potential clients and integrate an assessment process around eligibility for relief. This new workflow will ensure the Public Defender’s Office provides the DA, CDCR, and Sherriff’s Office with an initial recommendation for which cases to pursue while building unity across departments as to what disciplinary responses within the carceral system do or do not present barriers to the resentencing process. The Executive Fellow will also identify the service providers and workflows needed to support delivering comprehensive treatment/reentry plans (linking housing, benefits, employment, medical, and community-based services) to eligible clients, streamlining the re-integration of clients into the community. Improvement in these workflows will build efficiency throughout court administration, especially around stipulation agreements.
The Executive Fellow will also work to develop key performance indicators, utilizing available data to set a baseline and projections for progress. The Executive Fellow will work closely with the Bar Panel to coordinate and collect any existing aggregate data, and then outline a system for tracking data on the resentencing system, capturing metrics on how system-wide coordination has increased, how new workflows have impacted critical goals, such as closing the Men’s Central Jail, and the return-on-investment of funding into the program. This system will ensure the confidentiality of the Public Defender’s Office clients when ensuring the data is meaningful. The Executive Fellow should broadly share progress on the initiative, communicating as many visible wins as possible to the public and the Board of Supervisors.
By July 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen critical stages of implementing an efficient and effective resentencing referral system in LA County. This will include the following:
- – Conduct a landscape analysis of resentencing and the resentencing referral system within the Public Defender’s Office, collating all relevant workflows, policies, and processes; map potential gaps and barriers; identify opportunities for collaboration and process improvement; interview all stakeholders and strengthen existing lines of communication between them
- Prioritize recommendations and begin implementation – Build out recommendations to improve all critical workflows identified; initiate process improvements and align investments (resources and time); create robust communication structures between internal and external teams; build out comprehensive criteria and an assessment process for referrals; support the delivery of comprehensive reentry plans, ensuring all support services are offered in each eligible case
- Engage stakeholders and catalyze buy-in – Build cross-departmental collaborations and private-public partnerships that support effective workflows; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the new processes; support capacity building of staff, stewarding the adopting and use the latest strategies and resources, embedding the referral process as an essential element in the court system
- Determine how to measure outcomes and assess progress – Work with stakeholders to identify relevant data and metrics that intersect with each workflow; integrate a system of tracking progress on recommendations; collect data, document quantitative outcomes, and prepare reports; report to the Board on actions taken in the first few months
- Manage grant requirements and progress reports – Work collaboratively with the Los Angeles County Bar Association and Alternate Public Defender, primarily their corresponding Executive Fellows, to prepare reports and ensure an authentic story is told about the program development in each department; determine metrics that are relevant across departments, aggregate outcomes, and ensure consistent and cohesive reporting; safeguard case and client anonymity between departments and within the reports and outcomes reported, retaining a high degree of ethical confidentiality
- Support long-term implementation and ensure initiative sustainability – Developthe necessary internal and external systems to ensure that strategies are sustainable and successfully implemented; work with stakeholders and department leadership to manage the program, including embedding processes for continual evaluation of the system to facilitate cyclical process improvement
- Project Supervisor – Debra Werbel, Head Deputy Public Defender – Post Conviction Unit, Public Defender’s Office
- Executive Sponsor – Thomas Moore, Assistant Public Defender – Special Divisions, Public Defender’s Office
- Approximately 15 years of professional experience in project management, particularly with a strong record of success in process improvement and streamlining workflows
- Strong commitment to justice reform and dedication to principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all work
- Strong data acumen, having developed and measured metrics, using them to support a business case and make a persuasive argument
- Robust success in relationship building, having fostered collaborative environments
- Excellent stakeholder engagement, facilitation, and presentation skills
- Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
- Experience working in high confidentiality and politically charged environments, prowess in managing delicate situations or stakeholders with patience
- Robust change management experience, able to navigate culture shifts within cross-functional teams
- Ability to create direction and quickly pivot within potentially ambiguous environments
- Superior critical thinking analytical skills
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
- A self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to applyfor this position.