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Representation at Arraignment: The Impact of "Smart Defense" on Due Process and Justice in Alameda County - Impact Justice and the Research and Action Center 2018 

01-29-2020 16:32

From the report: 

This report, written by Impact Justice’s Research & Action Center, explores the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office (ACPDO) implementation of the Smart Defense Initiative, which seeks to ensure representation at arraignment hearings. Previously, Alameda was the only county of its size in California that did not guarantee representation at this stage of the justice process. With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the ACPDO provided representation to more than 3,602 defendants facing felony charges during a one-year period.

This evaluation resulted in several important findings:
- Motions to release defendants greatly increased (from virtually 0 to 27% of cases), and were largely granted 
- Motions to reduce bail were largely granted (83% granted)
- Rights to a speedy trial were asserted and increased as well (from 1% to 40%).

All these findings positively impact justice and due process outcomes. The County released defendants who would have otherwise remained incarcerated, averting a cumulative 2,974 days of incarceration during the course of a year. The ACPDO’s progress in providing counsel at arraignment translates into over $420,000 in savings per year. The financial and human costs of incarceration are significant and should not be accepted without careful examination of all alternatives

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