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ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER
WINSTON A. PETERS

Defenders must address underlying causes of criminality

Over the course of my long career as a public defender I have come to realize that many of the underlying causes that bring troubled adults and children into the justice system remain largely unaddressed or even ignored. These public health issues include mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency, co-occurring disorders, developmental disability, homelessness, and abuse and trauma. Clients in the justice system are often undiagnosed, untreated and unassisted as they attempt to navigate social and medical services. Immigration problems and English proficiency may further complicate matters.

There are approximately 33,000 mentally ill adult prisoners in California state prisons - close to 30 percent of the total prison population. A 2005 final report
prepared for the Chief Probation Officers of California and the California Mental Health
Directors Association estimated that 50 to 75 percent of youth in juvenile detention facilities have diagnosable mental health disorders.

Click here to read the entire article

Welcome to the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender
 

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IN THE NEWS

A Times Writes Article on the "Pardon Guy" from the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office.

Felons turn to 'pardon guy' in Los Angeles Public Defender's Office to verify that they're rehabilitated.

by Soumya Karlamangla, Reporter

John Garbin hears from people who say they'll commit suicide if he doesn't help them. Because of mistakes they made years ago — criminal mistakes — they can't get a job, move on with their lives, or escape their tarnished reputations, even though they've served their time.
"The calls we get are from people who are absolutely desperate," he said. "We do not live in a forgiving society."

Around the Los Angeles County public defender's office where he works, Garbin is known as "the pardon guy," although it might be more accurate to call him the "certificate of rehabilitation guy."
As a senior paralegal, he has spent the last two decades answering about 1,000 calls a year from felons, most of them drug offenders. He digs into each one's history to confirm they have gone straight for at least seven years (about 5% to 10% fall short). Then he works to persuade a judge to grant them a wider path back into society. His success rate is an astounding 95%.
Such a certificate doesn't erase the past, but it does restore some of the civil rights lost upon conviction. It also serves as an automatic application for a governor's pardon, the ultimate badge of rehabilitation.

Read full story by the Los Angeles Times here. . . . .

 

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JennyWritten By Dennis McCarthy, LA Daily News

Poor defendants deserve good clothes, too

“You have the right to an attorney … if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.”

Got it. We watched “Law and Order.” But where in reading a suspect his Miranda Rights does it mention you will also be appointed some nice threads to wear at your trial, too?

If you’re indigent in Los Angeles County and need a public defender, it doesn’t make a difference if you’re a 44-long, 38-short, or size 7, there are some quality, slightly used suits, shirts, and dresses waiting for you in a clothes closet at your local Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. 

They’ve been dry cleaned and donated by many of the 708 attorneys who work for the oldest Public Defender’s Office in the country — opened for business in 1914 to make sure poor people get the same shot at a fair trial as people with the money to hire a private defense attorney.

Read story by clicking here for LA Daily News, or by clicking here for a hard copy.

 

©2012 Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office. All Rights Reserved.