In choosing public defender, use a restorative justice lens

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In the wake of George Floyd’s death, over-policing black communities became the national conversation. But the fact is, even though it’s not being talked about, public defense is critical to ending this problem as well. This is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our day – the dire need to strengthen public defense.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will soon decide whether to appoint Sharone Mitchell or Emmanuel Andre as the county’s public defender. There are many watching and hoping the two candidates will be evaluated through a restorative justice lens. As Preckwinkle makes her decision, a model of defense advancing locally in North Lawndale can play a crucial role to reduce the over-policing, over-prosecuting, and mass incarceration of black and brown men and women. We believe the candidate most capable of implementing this model of defense is what Cook County needs.