DARYL RODRIGUES, now the former Director of Thurston County Public Defense, is a consistent and powerful voice for criminal justice reform.  He is a consistent friend and inspiration to OUUC-based Justice Not Jails, making us aware of policies and laws that disproportionately affect the poor and people of color.

Recently Justice Not Jail’s Steve Tilley nominated Daryl for the Washington State Bar Association’s Local Hero Award with these words:

“Daryl Rodrigues, Director of Thurston County Public Defense, is our hero working toward criminal justice reform. Justice-not-Jails is an interfaith effort seeking reforms to the Thurston County criminal justice system. We are concerned that the system treats minorities and lower income people differently than white people and those with financial resources. Daryl came to one of our first meetings in 2013 and has since served as a technical advisor to increase our awareness of the law and justice system and how to advocate for real change.

“Early on, we decided to address the issue of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) holds. These ‘courtesy holds’ detained members of the community on behalf of ICE without any legal authority, obligating the county to continue holding detainees in jail. Daryl helped us understand the legal status of ICE holds, the ramifications for individuals and their families, and the costs to the County that were not reimbursed by federal funding. We presented these issues to County Commissioners, the Prosecuting Attorney and the Thurston County Sheriff. In 2014, the Sherriff adopted a policy to only honor ICE hold requests when federal warrants were issued. Last fall, Daryl worked with us and the County Commissioners to adopt an ordinance codifying the ICE Hold policy previously adopted by the Thurston County Sheriff.

“Daryl also helped us understand the plight of people whose licenses have been revoked due to an inability to pay traffic fines. In Thurston County, driving is essential to hold a job and care for children. With Daryl’s guidance, we created the Community-Assisted Resources for Equity (CARE) Fund to help pay down fines and get licenses restored. Daryl and his office have been contributing to a task force of the Attorney General that will recommend legislation to help solve this problem.

“Since becoming Director of Thurston County Public Defense in 2013, Daryl has tirelessly educated staff, created external alliances in the broader community, and advocated for funding to provide the full scope of “holistic defense”, and to meet the indigent defense caseload mandates set by the Washing State Supreme Court. Holistic defense is a client-centered approach that helps clients access services outside the criminal justice system address sources of stress and dysfunction in their lives. For example, an office utilizing a holistic defense approach helps a client find housing resources and appropriate treatment for chemical dependency and mental health issues. Thurston County Pubic Defense now has a mitigation specialist to help clients this way. Justice-not-Jails helped Thurston County Public Defense create a clothing bank to provide clients with suitable clothing for court appearances.

“Daryl’s work on behalf of the mentally ill has resulted in system-wide improvements in how they are assessed and treated at first contact with law enforcement. We now have a Triage Center, and thanks to Daryl’s efforts, are working on a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program and a crisis mobile team to help individuals access treatment rather than taking them immediately to jail. Daryl also actively supports our Mental Health and Veterans’ courts in helping veterans and people with mental illness avoid criminal convictions and jail time while ensuring continuing their treatment.

“We believe Daryl is a perfect candidate for the WSBA Local Hero Award and hope he will be selected.”

– Carol McKinley, faithinactionministry@ouuc.org