In response to the serious public health concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), our office has been leading the way in advocating for the health and safety of those who come into contact with the criminal legal system and who may be incarcerated in local jails, juvenile detention, immigration detention, and prisons. We will continue to post more updates here in the days ahead.
COVID Client Information Guide
The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has resulted in many changes to court dates and bail. If you who have questions about how these recent changes may affect your case, or would like more information about how to stay safe and healthy both in and out of custody, please see the SF Public Defender’s informational guide here.
For information about free resources in the community – such as meals, pantries, shelter, medical and mental health – visit this external site.
3/17/2020: For those with loved ones in California State Prisons: CDCR’s telephone network provider Global Tel Link (GTL) has offered the adult incarcerated population free phone calls from 12:30 a.m. Thursday, March 19, through 11:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26.
3/18/2020: Juvenile Probation announced that videoconferencing will replace face-to-face visits with parents/guardians.
3/19/2020: SF Public Defender Mano Raju issued a statement and sent a letter to ICE calling on the release of immigrants detained in Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Detention Center. See letter below.
3/20/2020: Twenty-six people were released from county jail. The SF Public Defender’s Office advocated for their release as they all had fewer than 60 days remaining in their sentence.
3/23/2020: Eight more people were released from county jail. The SF Public Defender’s Office advocated for their release as they all had fewer than 60 days remaining in their sentence.
3/24/2020: The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, along with the ALCU Northern California, ACLU Southern California, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and Lakin & Wille LLP, sued ICE on behalf of 13 medically-vulnerable people who are being held in immigration detention in Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Detention Center. The plaintiffs are suing for their release during this public health crisis.
3/30/2020: SF County jail population is down 25% this month. Public Defenders have been filing release motions and coordinating release plans to present to the DA & the Courts in the ongoing effort to reduce jail populations in the midst of the coronavirus.
4/14/2020: Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer introduced legislation to close County Jail #4 at the Hall of Justice by November 1, 2020.
4/14/2020: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to secure 8,250 hotel rooms for the homeless, including a provision to include people who are exiting jail and are homeless.
4/16/2020: First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus in an SF Jail
4/23/2020: SF County Jail population = 701. That’s a 38% reduction since March 2nd.
5/7/2020: Video visits for justice-involved mothers will begin on Mother’s Day, Sunday 5/10. Sheriff’s rehabilitation service coordinators are scheduling video visits in 30-minute increments for this Sunday. Video visits for others will be coming soon.
Please also follow us on social media: Twitter @ManoRajuPD & @sfdefender and Facebook @Mano Raju & @San Francisco Public Defender’s Office
Letters to Justice Partners:
Letter to SF Sheriff Paul Miyamoto from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – March 9, 2020
Letter to SF Sheriff Paul Miyamoto from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – March 10, 2020
Letter to SFPD Chief Bill Scott from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – March 11, 2020
Joint Letter to David Jennings at I.C.E. Northern California from SF Public Defender Mano Raju & Alameda Public Defender Brendon Woods – March 12, 2020 [NOTE: The original letter was updated only to correct a minor typo.]
Letter to SF Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Katherine Miller from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – March 13, 2020
Letter to David Jennings at I.C.E. Northern California from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – Calling for the Release of Immigrants in Yuba County Jail & Mesa Verde Detention Center – March 19, 2020
Letter to Sheriff Miyamoto from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – Urging Further Action to Reduce Jail Populations and Ensure Safety& Hygiene in Jails & Courts – March 20,2020
Letter to Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Katherine Miller from SF Public Defender Mano Raju – Calling for the Release of All Children at Juvenile Hall – March 23, 2020
Joint Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom from SF Public Defender Mano Raju and SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin – Offering Support & Expertise for Safely Reducing Prison Populations Statewide – March 27, 2020
Letter to the California Supreme Court’s Judicial Council from the California Public Defender’s Association – March 27, 2020
Letter to Sheriff Paul Miyamoto on the Ongoing Public Health Crisis Measures in SF County Jails & April 14th Bulletin from the California Attorney General Regarding the Sheriff’s Authority During COVID-19 – April 29, 2020
SF Public Defender’s Office in the News: click on titles to be redirected to the articles.
Public defender calls for measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in jail – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner – March 9, 2020
Release some inmates to ease coronavirus threat in jail, California official says – By Don Sweeny – Sacramento Bee – March 11, 2020
San Francisco Officials Push to Reduce Jail Population to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreak – By Darwin BondGraham – The Appeal – March 11, 2020
Coronavirus fears prompt call for SF police to halt arrests in non-violent cases – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner – March 12, 2020
S.F. Police Should Curb Enforcement as Coronavirus Spreads, Public Defender Argues – By Sam Lew – San Francisco Public Press – March 13, 2020
Slowing Coronavirus Spread in the Jails – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills – March 14, 2020
Calls Mount for Release of Vulnerable Prisoners as Justice System Struggles to Respond to Coronavirus – By Marissa Lagos – KQED – March 16, 2020
San Francisco Public Defender Seeks ‘Immediate Release’ Of Some Jail Inmates Due To Coronavirus – By Jeffrey Cawood – The Daily Wire – March 16, 2020
Youth in detention should be released to reduce coronavirus risk, advocates say – By Leila Miller – The L.A. Times – March 18, 2020
What sheriffs can do to slow the coronavirus outbreak – By Jessica Pishko – The Appeal – March 18, 2020
Resources strained, some police departments are changing their response to low-level crime – By Hannah Knowles – The Washington Post – March 18, 2020 1:47pm (no direct link; scroll down)
Coronavirus: San Francisco, Contra Costa prosecutors join national call for jail releases – By Megan Cassidy – SF Chronicle – March 18,2020
SF moves to release inmates fearing coronavirus outbreak behind bars – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner – March 19, 2020
SF’s Jailed Children Barred from In-Person Visits – By Sam Lew – San Francisco Public Press – March 20, 2020
Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country – By Abbie Van Sickle, Cary Aspinwall, Keri Blakinger, Christie Thompson – The Marshall Project – March 21, 2020
SF Public Defender Mano Raju on Crosscurrents – With Holly McDede – KALW 91.7FM – March 23, 2020
SF Public Defender Mano Rajo on UpFront – With Cat Brooks & Brian Edward-Tiekert – KPFA 94.1FM – March 23, 2020 (Time stamp: 1:16:00)
Detained immigrants sue ICE, say they can’t social distance in jail and fear severe coronavirus illness – By Lauren Hernandez – SF Chronicle – March 25, 2020
As Coronavirus Surges, Crime Declines in Some Cities – By Simone Weichselbaum & Weihua Li – The Marshall Project – March 27, 2020
This American Life – “The Test – Act Three: Outbreak Breakout” – The story of Terry, the first person our office filed an emergency release motion for due to his high risk for coronavirus. It was granted. – Produced by Sean Cole / Host Ira Glass – March 29,2020
In COVID crisis, judges decide to keep more people in jail – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills – March 29, 2020
Detention Into Death Sentence – A Video Featuring Our Client & Others Revealing Conditions Inside Immigration Detention in California – Produced by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity – March 31, 2020
SF District Attorney and Public Defender Unite to Release Incarcerated People Amidst COVID-19 – By Lea Barrios – The Davis Vanguard – April 1, 2020
SF Public Defender Calls for the Release of Eligible Youth in Juvenile Detention Facilities – By Julietta Bisharyan – The Davis Vanguard – April 2, 2020
Trial by video conference? Not yet, but coronavirus forces Bay Area courts to embrace more virtual proceedings – By Bob Egelko – The San Francisco Chronicle – April 5, 2020
California Court Leaders Approve $0 bail for low level suspects. Will it be signed? – By Darrell Smith – The Sacramento Bee – April 6, 2020
Philadelphia District Attorney and Public Defender’s Offices Work toward Reducing Population of Incarcerated – By Lea Barrios – The Davis Vanguard – April 6, 2020
New Tactic Against Coronavirus: Hotels For Homeless Exiting Jails – By Abbie Van Sickle – The Marshall Project – April 6, 2020
Judge Orders ICE to Release 4 Medically Vulnerable Immigrants From Detention Facilities – By Julia Cheever – Bay City News / SF Gate – April 9, 2020
‘Important Step’ as Federal Judge Orders ICE to Release Detained Immigrants at Heightened Risk for COVID-19 – By Jessica Corbett – Common Dreams – April 9, 2020
Judge orders 4 released from ICE detention due to coronavirus fears – By Bob Egelko – The San Francisco Chronicle – April 10, 2020
SF Public Defender Calls Zero Bail a Critical Tool to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in Jails – The Davis Vanguard – April 14, 2020
Fewer introduces legislation to speed up closure of Hall of Justice jail – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner – April 14, 2020
S.F. must lease 8,250 hotel rooms for homeless, frontline workers under emergency ordinance – By Trisha Thadani – The San Francisco Chronicle – April 14, 2020
Jails and Prisons Spring Thousands to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreaks – By Mark Kreidler – Kaiser Health News – April 16, 2020
Attorneys Fight For Detained Immigrants During Pandemic: An Interview with Managing Attorney of our Immigration Unit, Francisco Ugarte – Be Holly McDede – Crosscurrents on KALW 91.7FM – April 16, 2020
Coronavirus Pandemic: Inmate at San Francisco Jail Tests Positive – CBS – April 16, 2020
‘How Do I Defender People Now?’ – Featuring a piece by SF Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt “Why did it take COVID-19 to convince the state that my client is a human being?”– The Marshall Project – April 17, 2020
SF public defender, ACLU sue ICE to demand release of hundreds of detainees – By Tatiana Sanchez – April 21,2020
Press Conference 4.21.2020 – Detained Immigrants File Class Action Lawsuit Against ICE in Pandemic – Hosted by the SF Public Defender’s Office – April 21, 2020
Lawsuit seeks to reduce ICE detention during pandemic – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills
Trans asylum seeker still in custody – By John Ferrannini – Bay Area Reporter – April 21, 2020
SF Public Defender Sues for Release of ICE Detainees to Reduce Crowding – By Tyche Hendricks – KQED – April 22, 2020
Released From ICE Detention Into a Pandemic: For One Woman, Returning Home Is Complex – By Michelle Wiley – April 28, 2020
Face Mask Controversy Fuels Calls for Police Commission to Resume Meeting – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner – May 4, 2020
San Francisco Speeds Up Closure of Dilapidated Jail – By Nicholas Iovino – Courthouse News Service – May 5, 2020