FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: San Francisco Public Defender’s Office | PDR-MediaRelations@sfgov.org

**PRESS STATEMENT**

SF Public Defender Applauds Restoration of State’s Public Defender Pilot Program and Urges Permanent Funding

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This week, the California State Legislature and Governor reached an agreement that restores funding to the Public Defender Pilot Program (PDPP) in the state budget for FY 2024-2025. PDPP is a three-year grant that funds public defender offices statewide to provide resentencing and reentry support for incarcerated people who have become eligible for sentence review under criminal system reform laws. The Freedom Project is a program of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, that is made possible by PDPP funding and provides resentencing and reentry services.  Mano Raju, San Francisco’s elected Public Defender, issued the following statement:

“The Public Defender Pilot Program is proving that reducing mass incarceration is possible and can be done in a way that furthers community safety, saves taxpayer money, and restores hope to people and their families impacted by incarceration. 

I am grateful to the Legislative Budget Chairs Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel for their work and negotiations with Governor Gavin Newsom to restore funding to the cost-saving and life-changing Public Defender Pilot Program. I also appreciate the support and leadership from Senate Pro Tem Mike McGuire, Speaker Robert Rivas, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Senator Nancy Skinner. 

Public Defenders, who have represented the majority of people in our state prisons, are uniquely skilled and driven to help implement resentencing reform laws in a holistic way. Our Freedom Project has provided a high level of legal guidance and reentry support thanks to this PDPP grant. 

The Freedom Project has represented more than 100 people in resentencing and parole hearings, reunited 89 families, and secured stable housing and community resources for every client coming home. These efforts have prevented over 1,000 years of prison time, saving California an estimated $150 million dollars. 

While the Public Defender Pilot Program is important, permanent funding is needed for public defender resentencing and reentry units to continue the work of safely returning people who have shown their readiness to rejoin their families and contribute to their communities. The overwhelmingly successful pilot demands a permanent solution.”  

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