Public Defender’s Office hosting youth event

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Yolo County youths are invited to learn more about the public defender’s office and its racial justice work at a day-long event July 22.

The “For the Defenders of Tomorrow” program is open to high school students as well as recent graduates and Woodland Community College students.

Participants will be introduced to different staff members in the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office and learn more about legal proceedings, advocacy and public service. They’ll meet attorneys, paralegals, investigators, social workers, client advocates and support staff who will share insight into their profession and how they came to it.

In addition to observing in-person court proceedings, participants will attend presentations such as “How to Become a Lawyer” and “Know Your Rights.”

At the concluding panel discussion, participants will be highly encouraged to share their perspectives regarding how the Public Defender’s Office can improve its representation and better partner with Yolo County residents and communities.

“The idea for this event was born out of a meeting with Brown Issues Ambassadors after our office had a field trip to Taller Arte de Nuevo Amanecer (TANA) in Woodland,” said Chief Mitigation Specialist and Racial Justice Committee member Emily Kochly, “We recognize the need to not only foster an interest in the criminal legal system in our youth but also hear from them about what impacts they see the criminal legal system has on their community.”

Another member of the Racial Justice Committee, Deputy Public Defender James Bradford, credits Brown Issues Ambassadors in the development of the For the Defenders of Tomorrow event.

“The problems facing our communities of color are profound and persistent,” he said. “The efforts of the Brown Issues Ambassadors to counter the dehumanizing aspects of the justice system and undo misconceptions that continue to pervade societal thinking about crime in these communities, especially amongst the youth, is nothing less than inspiring.”

Now the Public Defender’s Office hopes to continue that work through this inaugural event and inspire Yolo County youths to consider their role, as change-makers, in the criminal legal system.

Space in the For the Defenders of Tomorrow event is limited and participants are encouraged to sign up by June 17. Contact Eleni Bonilla with questions at 530-406-4525 or eleni.bonilla@yolocounty.org.

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