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The Impact of Early Representation: An Analysis of the San Francisco Public Defender's Pre-Trial Release Unit - California Policy Lab 2018 

06-28-2018 02:30 PM

In October 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office piloted the Pre-Trial Release Unit (PRU) to enhance access to pre-arraignment legal representation for indigent arrestees. Using data provided by the Office, this study finds the pilot program doubled the likelihood of release at arraignment – from 14% to 28% – for arrestees who received arrest-responsive interventions from the PRU. The intervention is projected to save approximately 11,200 jail bed-days per year at an annual cost of approximately $335,000. Furthermore, the PRU’s efforts to advocate for the dismissal of parole holds reduced pre-trial incarceration by 44%, or an average of 9.5 days, among eligible parolees who were held in custody for violation of their parole orders.

This policy brief offers context, gives an overview of the PRU, discusses the methodology and findings of this study, and suggests further research needed. 


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