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, prisons, and reentry centers.

COVID Client Information Guide

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has resulted in many changes to court dates and bail. If you 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.

Stay Up-To-Date:

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For more San Francisco Public Defender news, visit our Media page. If you have questions, you can contact us at

Letters to Justice Partners:

SF Public Defender Press Releases – COVID-19:

03/10/20 – Public Defender Seeks Immediate Release for People in Jail with Short Sentences and Heightened Risk of Coronavirus | SF Public Defender

03/12/20 – Letter from Mano Raju to Chief Bill Scott – Seeking SFPD response to COVID-19 | SF Public Defender

03/12/20 – San Francisco and Alameda County Public Defenders’ joint letter to ICE of Northern California | SF Public Defender

03/13/20 – Letter to Juvenile Probation in regards to COVID-19 | SF Public Defender

03/19/20 – PRESS STATEMENT: San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju Calls for Release of Immigrant Detainees at Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Detention Center | SF Public Defender

03/31/20 – SF Public Defender & District Attorney Offer Expertise & Solutions for Safely Reducing the Statewide Prison Population Amid COVID-19 | SF Public Defender

04/13/20 – Public Defender Mano Raju says “Zero Bail” measure is critical tool to prevent spread of COVID-19 in jails throughout the state | SF Public Defender

04/09/20 – Federal Judge orders ICE to release four detained immigrants at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 infection | SF Public Defender

04/16/20 – San Francisco Public Defender Statement on First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus in San Francisco County Jail | SF Public Defender

04/21/20 – Detained Immigrants File Class Action Lawsuit Against ICE, Demand Immediate Releases From Extremely Unsafe Conditions During Global Pandemic | SF Public Defender

04/29/20 – Court Finds Likely Constitutional Violation in ICE’S Detention of Immigrants in Two Cramped Detention Centers during Pandemic; Order Establishes Process for Court to Consider Releases of Detained Immigrants | SF Public Defender

06/09/20 – Judge Orders ICE to Maintain Pandemic Protections at Detention Centers | SF Public Defender

06/19/20 – ICE Confirms Medical Provider at Mesa Verde Detention Center Tests Positive for COVID-19 – Exposing ICE’s Continued Failure to Protect Health During Pandemic | SF Public Defender

07/01/20 – SF Public Defender’s Office Mobilizing to Release People from San Quentin Amid Escalating COVID-19 Outbreak | SF Public Defender

07/07/20 – Letter to Governor Newsom: Recommendations for Reducing the Prison Population and Protecting People in California Prisons | SF Public Defender

07/08/20 – Broad Coalition of Legal and Medical Experts Urge SF Courts to Restore ‘Zero Bail’ Amid Growing Number of COVID-19 Cases in SF Jails | SF Public Defender

07/28/20 – Effort to Release People Incarcerated at San Quentin Moves Forward In Marin County Superior Court | SF Public Defender

08/06/20 – Judge Orders ICE to Provide COVID-19 Testing – Emails Reveal ICE Had Refused to Test People at Mesa Verde Out of Fear of What They Would Uncover | SF Public Defender

08/14/20 – SF Public Defender Wins Acquittal in First Trial since COVID-19 Crisis | SF Public Defender

08/15/20 – After Judge Ordered ICE to Test All Detainees and Staff at Mesa Verde, Fifty Percent of Detainees Test Positive for COVID-19 | SF Public Defender

08/17/20 – Petitioners Allege CDCR Purposefully Ignored Marin County Health Official Warnings about Dangers at San Quentin; Over 400 pages of Evidence Presented | SF Public Defender

11/11//20 – New Documents Reveal ICE and Private Prison Contractor Exacerbated a COVID Outbreak at Immigration Detention Center | SF Public Defender12/2/20 – Court Slams ICE for Handling of COVID at Mesa Verde | SF Public Defender

12/03/20 – Court Slams ICE for Handling of COVID at Mesa Verde | SF Public Defender

02/16/21 – Adachi Project Releases “One Eleven Taylor”, a Documentary Short Depicting Dangerous Conditions at a GEO Group-run For-Profit Halfway House in San Francisco | SF Public Defender

02/18/21 – Ninth Circuit Affirms Likely Constitutional Violation in Detention of Immigrants During Pandemic | SF Public Defender

SF Public Defender’s Office in the News – COVID-19:

03/09/20 – Public defender calls for measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in jail – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

03/11/20 – Release some inmates to ease coronavirus threat in jail, California official says – By Don Sweeny – Sacramento Bee

03/11/20 – San Francisco Officials Push to Reduce Jail Population to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreak – By Darwin Bond Graham – The Appeal

03/12/20 – Coronavirus fears prompt call for SF police to halt arrests in non-violent cases – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

03/13/20 – S.F. Police Should Curb Enforcement as Coronavirus Spreads, Public Defender Argues – By Sam Lew – San Francisco Public Press

03/14/20 – Slowing Coronavirus Spread in the Jails – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills

03/16/20 – Calls Mount for Release of Vulnerable Prisoners as Justice System Struggles to Respond to Coronavirus – By Marissa Lagos – KQED

03/16/20 – San Francisco Public Defender Seeks ‘Immediate Release’ Of Some Jail Inmates Due To Coronavirus – By Jeffrey Cawood – The Daily Wire

03/18/20 – Youth in detention should be released to reduce coronavirus risk, advocates say – By Leila Miller – The L.A. Times

03/18/20 – What sheriffs can do to slow the coronavirus outbreak – By Jessica Pishko – The Appeal

03/18/20 – Resources strained, some police departments are changing their response to low-level crime – By Hannah Knowles – The Washington Post

03/18/20 – Coronavirus: San Francisco, Contra Costa prosecutors join national call for jail releases – By Megan Cassidy – SF Chronicle

03/19/20 – SF moves to release inmates fearing coronavirus outbreak behind bars – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

03/20/20 – SF’s Jailed Children Barred from In-Person Visits – By Sam Lew – San Francisco Public Press

03/21/20 – Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country – By Abbie Van Sickle, Cary Aspinwall, Keri Blakinger, Christie Thompson – The Marshall Project

03/23/20 – SF Public Defender Mano Raju on Crosscurrents – With Holly McDede – KALW 91.7FM

03/23/20 – SF Public Defender Mano Rajo on UpFront – With Cat Brooks & Brian Edward-Tiekert – KPFA 94.1FM (Time stamp: 1:16:00)

03/25/20 – Detained immigrants sue ICE, say they can’t social distance in jail and fear severe coronavirus illness – By Lauren Hernandez – SF Chronicle

03/27/20 – As Coronavirus Surges, Crime Declines in Some Cities – By Simone Weichselbaum & Weihua Li – The Marshall Project

03/29/20 – 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

03/29/20 – In COVID crisis, judges decide to keep more people in jail – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills

03/31/20 – 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

04/01/20 – SF District Attorney and Public Defender Unite to Release Incarcerated People Amidst COVID-19 – By Lea Barrios – The Davis Vanguard

04/02/20 – SF Public Defender Calls for the Release of Eligible Youth in Juvenile Detention Facilities – By Julietta Bisharyan – The Davis Vanguard

04/05/20 – Trial by video conference? Not yet, but coronavirus forces Bay Area courts to embrace more virtual proceedings – By Bob Egelko – The San Francisco Chronicle

04/06/20 – California Court Leaders Approve $0 bail for low level suspects. Will it be signed? – By Darrell Smith – The Sacramento Bee

04/06/20 – Philadelphia District Attorney and Public Defender’s Offices Work toward Reducing Population of Incarcerated – By Lea Barrios – The Davis Vanguard

04/06/20 – New Tactic Against Coronavirus: Hotels For Homeless Exiting Jails – By Abbie Van Sickle – The Marshall Project

04/09/20 – Judge Orders ICE to Release 4 Medically Vulnerable Immigrants From Detention Facilities – By Julia Cheever – Bay City News / SF Gate

04/09/20 – ‘Important Step’ as Federal Judge Orders ICE to Release Detained Immigrants at Heightened Risk for COVID-19 – By Jessica Corbett – Common Dreams

04/10/20 – Judge orders 4 released from ICE detention due to coronavirus fears – By Bob Egelko – The San Francisco Chronicle

04/14/20 – SF Public Defender Calls Zero Bail a Critical Tool to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in Jails – The Davis Vanguard

04/14/20 – Fewer introduces legislation to speed up closure of Hall of Justice jail – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

04/14/20 – S.F. must lease 8,250 hotel rooms for homeless, frontline workers under emergency ordinance – By Trisha Thadani – The San Francisco Chronicle

04/16/20 – Jails and Prisons Spring Thousands to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreaks – By Mark Kreidler – Kaiser Health News

04/16/20 – 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

04/16/20 – Coronavirus Pandemic: Inmate at San Francisco Jail Tests Positive – CBS

04/17/20 – ‘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

04/21/20 – SF public defender, ACLU sue ICE to demand release of hundreds of detainees – By Tatiana Sanchez

04/21/20 – Press Conference 4.21.2020 – Detained Immigrants File Class Action Lawsuit Against ICE in Pandemic – Hosted by the SF Public Defender’s Office

04/21/20 – Lawsuit seeks to reduce ICE detention during pandemic – By Tim Redmond – 48 Hills

04/21/20 – Trans asylum seeker still in custody – By John Ferrannini – Bay Area Reporter

04/22/20 – SF Public Defender Sues for Release of ICE Detainees to Reduce Crowding – By Tyche Hendricks – KQED

04/28/20 – Released From ICE Detention Into a Pandemic: For One Woman, Returning Home Is Complex – By Michelle Wiley

05/04/20 – Face Mask Controversy Fuels Calls for Police Commission to Resume Meeting – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

05/05/20 – San Francisco Speeds Up Closure of Dilapidated Jail – By Nicholas Iovino – Courthouse News Service

06/06/20 – ICE Can’t Be Trusted To Shield Rights Amid Virus, Judge Says – By Lauren Berg – Law 360

07/05/20 – S.F. Immigration Lawyers Cut ICE Detention Centers Population by Two-Thirds – By Nuala Bishari – SF Public Press

07/11/20 – Gov. Newsom must release more people from prisons to protect Californians and save lives – By Danica Rodarmel and James King – Sacramento Bee

07/16/20 – SF’s first criminal trial since outbreak starts Monday — there will be masks in courtroom – By Bob Egelko – San Francisco Chronicle

07/16/20 – In 1st ruling of its kind, SF judge declares witnesses will wear transparent face masks in court – By Kris Reyes – ABC 7 News

07/21/20 – Former Prisoner Fights for Inmates’ Release – By Nuala Bishari – SF Weekly

07/22/20 – The Imprisoners’ Dilemma – By Sarah Holder – Bloomberg News

07/29/20 – Efforts to Release Incarcerated from San Quentin Move Forward in Marin County Superior Court – Davis Vanguard

08/05/20 – San Quentin inmates petition to be released due to coronavirus concerns – KRON 4

08/06/20 – Judge orders Bakersfield immigration holding facility to test all detainees weekly – By Bob Egelko – San Francisco Chronicle

08/14/20 – COVID-19 Has Made ICE Detention Centers Even More Dangerous – By Farida Jhabvala Romero – KQED

08/16/20 – Federal judge orders COVID-19 testing at Bakersfield immigration detention facility – By Doug Smith – LA Times

08/17/20 – Lawyers for nearly 50 men incarcerated at San Quentin sue over ‘botched transfer,’ demand release – By Lisa Fernandez – KTVU FOX 2

08/18/20 – Half of All Detainees at Bakersfield ICE Facility Have Tested Positive For COVID-19 – By Farida Jhabvala Romero – KQED

08/19/20 – Report Finds Prison Officials Mishandled Pandemic – By Shannon Lin – KQED/NPR

09/23/20 – Reflections on the first post-pandemic jury trial in San Francisco – By Sierra Villaran – Daily Journal

10/06/20 – ICE Misusing Solitary Confinement for COVID-19 Quarantine, Detainees Say – By Farida Jhabvala Romero – KQED

10/08/20 – Inconsistent California Court Livestreaming – A Public Access Crisis – By Layla Mustafa – Davis Vanguard

10/21/20 – Appeals court orders San Quentin to reduce population citing ‘deliberate indifference’ over virus – By Lisa Fernandez – KTVU FOX 2

10/21/20 – San Quentin must release or transfer half its prisoners because of lack of COVID care, court rules – By Bob Egelko – SF Chronicle

10/27/20 – SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates – By Michael Barba – SF Examiner

11/03/20 – US – Why are people trapped in prison with COVID-19 – Al Jazeera

11/12/20 – California ICE detention center officials ignored COVID-19 protocols: attorneys – By Lisa Fernandez – KTVU FOX 2

11/24/20 – S.F. Immigration Defense Unit Represents Immigrants Statewide Through Pandemic – By Laura Wenus – SF Public Press

12/03/20 – Mesa Verde detention center must keep testing detainees for COVID, over ICE’s objections – By Bob Egelko – SF Chronicle

12/06/20 – Chronicle Exclusive: Amid virus outbreaks, majority of medically high-risk prisoners were not considered for release – By Nora Mishanec – SF Chronicle

12/14/20 – Attorneys urge Gov. Newsom to stop involuntary transfers from San Quentin prison – By Lisa Fernandez – KTVU FOX 2

12/16/20 – Congressional leaders on brink of COVID-19 relief bill; California ICU capacity plunges as COVID-19 infections soar to highest on record (Timestamp Min 31-37) – By Karin Argoud Morrissey – KPFA

12/21/20 – Update on Zepeda-Rivas Lawsuit (Min 10) – By Karin Argoud Morrissey – KPFA

12/23/20 – Immigrant Advocates Sound Alarm Over Escalating COVID-19 Outbreak in Yuba County Jail – By Michelle Wiley – KQED

12/30/20 – Outbreak at Yuba County Jail Continues to Grow – By Farida Jhabvala Romero – KQED

01/26/21 – ‘They Didn’t Listen to Us’: ICE Detainee Who Waged Hunger Strikes for COVID-19 Protections Gets Virus – By Farida Jhabvala Romero – KQED

01/29/21 – COVID in ICE Detention at Yuba County Jail – By Sash Coca – KQED California Report

For more SF Public Defender news, visit our Media page. You can also contact us at