IE Voice Staff |
San Bernardino County’s latest public building project aimed at expanding the county’s law-and-justice capacity opened Thursday, June 2.
The facility will serve as the new headquarters of the county’s Public Defender and is located on the former site of the First American Title building. It is the latest addition to the downtown justice district and will allow the Public Defender to better serve its clients while also working to prevent first offenses and recidivism.
Commenting on the new facility Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman declared, “This building and the Public Defender’s Office symbolize the County’s commitment to innovation and efficiency. This project will allow for cost-saving consolidation. Adult Services has been spread out over 3 different office locations.” Hagman noted how the new building has allowed the Public Defender to move that team to a single location.
“Also, the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s office was the first Public Defender’s office in the state to go completely digital with record-keeping functions, and this building was designed to support that as well as the newest technologies,” he added.
The three-story building located at 323 W. Court St., (across from the historic courthouse), has two floors of offices providing work accommodations for 120 county employees, while also having room for growth.
The new location It includes a state-of-the art training room that can be converted into a mock trial courtroom as well as common areas officials say are designed to promote collaboration and stress-relief.
Role of pubic defenders in San Bernardino County
Public defenders provide services beyond defense as part of their role in the criminal justice system. Those efforts include operating the county’s Parent and Child Connection Program, working with youth and neighborhoods through the “Let’s End Truancy Program,” and conducting record clearing clinics that remove barriers to employment for those committed to improving their lives.
The public defenders’ team also includes social workers who work to help their clients obtain resources needed for stability and self-sufficiency, such as housing, behavioral health counseling, social services, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
As noted on the county’s website, Public Defender Thomas Sone acknowledged the Board of Supervisors’ recognition of the need for a strong and well-funded Public Defender. Commenting on the new building he advised, “This new environment fosters the overall well-being of our team and allows us to better serve our clients. It not only stands as a pledge to defend the rights and dignity of our clients but also provide equitable access to justice.”