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The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) has selected San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi as its 2012 Reginald Heber Smith Award winner. “The Reggie” celebrates the outstanding achievements and dedicated services of an attorney for contributions made while employed by an organization providing civil legal services or indigent defense services.
The Clean Slate Program, one of San Francisco’s first reentry programs, was started by Public Defender Jeff Adachi in 1999. Over the past 10 years, Clean Slate has helped thousands of individuals overcome barriers to obtaining employment, housing, professional licenses, certifications and government aid.
Few events reflect the priorities of elected officials more vividly than a budget crisis. It is during a budget crisis that policy-makers are forced to choose between the interests of powerful or popular constituencies and the needs of the less powerful and most vulnerable citizens. Presently, this drama is being played out in San Francisco, where social and legal services to the poor are being slashed while Police and Fire Department budgets are being protected. This Faustian bargain is displayed in Mayor Newsom's proposal $1.9 million cut to the Public Defender's budget, while adding $18 million to the Police Department budget.
The first study to assess the impact of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office reentry social work program found that alternatives to incarceration, reduced sentencing and avoided jail days obtained as a result of reentry advocacy saved California state prisons over $5,000,000 and San Francisco County over $1,000,000.