The week began with a powerful service out of Tucson’s own Pilgrim’s Rest Missionary Baptist Church honoring Dr. King’s birthday and the peaceful arrival of a new national government. The intensity of emotion and anxiety surrounding Monday and Wednesday reminded us that progress happens in the difficult places. When we find the courage to live in the uncomfortable spaces, change is possible. It’s not an easy ask; it’s not an easy life. But it’s so worth it.
* In partnership with the Public Defender’s Office and the Court, we are closely reviewing the entire Pima County Jail population. The jail had a second Covid death this week, and we are swiftly looking for anyone who is held on a low cash bond from last year and should otherwise be released. This will allow people in jail more room to distance and keep both them and the Officers safer and healthier.
* Our brilliant Civil Division represents departments across the County and provides them regular counsel and representation in times of great need. In anticipation of the eviction moratorium expiring, I met with Chief Constable Randall and their attorney Nancy Davis to make sure we are doing our part to help prepare for what will be a truly difficult time for the community. By executive order, President Biden has extended the moratorium to March 31, which also extends our time to plan as a partner in our community before shelter is threatened for so many.
* There was a lot of discussion and excitement this week over our plan to bring Restorative Justice to Pima County. Law clerks from the Public Defender’s Office presented three other jurisdiction’s programs to our Office and to our Presiding Judges in Superior Court. We will need to create our own unique proposal for Pima County, but in the meantime, the desire to help volunteer for this program is encouraging, and the opportunity to borrow from our Community Justice Board crew gives us hope that we can get this off the ground this year.
* I had a meeting with Code for America and consultation with our own brilliant coders and developers in our IT department about how to obtain software that would help us run searches for those whose marijuana convictions should be expunged.
* Finally, today was a chaotic and frustrating day for the County’s vaccination program. Both Banner and TMC suffered glitches that resulted in a couple thousand people at Tucson Convention Center trying to be vaccinated. Some of our people who were generally in line to be vaccinated because of our critical role in the field were caught up in the crush at TCC. David Contreras, my assistant and public health liaison, and others stayed to volunteer to help the County with crowd control. I’m telling you: We’ve got some amazing people serving justice, day and night.
To be continued,