The session in which we spoke with Selena Alonzo, J.D. a public defender in Maryland. Selena is a Mexican-American and was strongly influenced by her family experience of having several of the most important men in her life (grandfather, uncles, cousin) incarcerated for various reasons. Selena holds deep knowledge of the effects of incarceration on people and their families. Knowing that the truest solution will be systemic change in our criminal justice system, Selena uses her law degree to work within the system to help change a potentially negatively spiraling life course for people as best she can.
We spoke with Selena just as the pandemic began to shut down the nation and asked for an update – this update also needs an update as we received it on March 25, 2020 but is interesting nonetheless:
It’s incredible how much everything has changed. I never realized how much I took for granted before…
I’ve been working remotely since 3/13. All of the cases I had set have been postponed until May. As of right now, the only thing we are able to do is file bond review motions to get our clients who are detained pre-trial out of jail. The majority of Assistant State Attorneys are opposing our bond review motions and are trying to keep people in jail. They are willing to release clients if they plead guilty to something but that is incredibly coercive given that we have no way of conveying any plea offers to our clients. We still have to go into the jails to interview clients which is a risk to both us and a bigger risk for our incarcerated clients because we could be silent carriers. I’m really hoping they figure out a way for us to interview clients over the phone soon… A small bright spot has been that police are arresting far less people. On an average bonds docket, I would have 15-20 people. Yesterday, I only had 4. Maybe after this cops will realize they don’t need to arrest every single person for “crimes” like disorderly or obstructing and hindering. SA