Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform

Learn more about Cindy's work on behalf of the public's health

Health

 

Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring

Supervisor Chavez played a leadership role in developing this office following the murder of mentally ill detainee Michael Tyree by three jail guards in 2015. The office will provide residents and inmates a place to file grievances and concerns. It will track and report back to the Board of Supervisors about operations, the use of force, and other conditions in the jail, including mental and physical health services, solitary confinement, and the Sheriff’s response to public and inmate complaints.

 

Hate Crimes Task Force/ Hate Prevention and Inclusion Task Force

Supervisor Chavez’s leadership addressing Hate Crimes emerged in 2016 after the community voiced fear about the potential actions of the Trump Administration. It has continued as Co-Chair of the Task Force since it convened in 2021, including various recommendations that the task force has made to reduce hate climate, hate incidents, and hate crimes.

 

Increased staff and hours of at Superior Court's Self-Help Center

Due to Supervisor Chavez’s leadership, the staffing and hours at the Superior Court’s Self-Help Center was increased allowing service to expand from three days a week to five beginning in January 2019. This assistance is invaluable to people representing themselves in cases ranging from domestic violence to tenant housing disputes 

 

Pretrial Release Unit in the Office of the Public Defender

In 2018, Supervisor Chavez proposed creating a pre-trial release unit in the Public Defender's Office to safely reduce the Santa Clara County jail population by increasing pretrial release and reducing wealth disparities in access to pre-arraignment representation.

 

Jail Diversion and Behavioral Health

In 2017, Supervisor Chavez's efforts led to a major expansion of behavioral health services designed to reduce recidivism and keep people out of custody in the first place. This effort included increasing post-custody mental health and co-occurring outpatient services by 40 slots, adding 50 slots to the 120-day Intensive Outpatient Service Team to connect individuals released from custody with housing, services, and benefits with the support of peer mentors. It also included the establishment of a Permanent Supportive Housing program to house chronically homeless clients with serious mental illness.

 

Bail Reform

  • Supervisor Chavez led the effort to make Santa Clara County is the first county in California to pass bail reform. The reforms ensure that non-violent suspects return to court without spending weeks, or months, sitting in jail, unable to work or attend school, often losing their jobs and homes. The reforms also significantly reduced the numbers of people in jail, at a cost to taxpayers of $200 a day.
  • One key reform was the implementation of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) tool in July 2017. It helps ensure that individuals who pose a danger to the public and their families are not released from custody. ODARA includes a l3-question interview with the victim and is used to assess whether offenders are likely to re-assault their current or former domestic or dating partners. It is evidence-based, validated, and focuses on the safety of the victims.

 

Children’s Advocacy Center

Beginning in 2019, Supervisor Chavez led the effort to fully staff and open the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). The CAC is a child-friendly facility in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy professionals work together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse, and hold offenders accountable. It has become one aspect of an emerging Center for Excellence for Children to include the CAC, the SPARK Clinic and eventually the Welcoming Center.

 

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

 

Rape Kit Processing

In June 2018, Supervisor Chavez authored the proposal that made Santa Clara the first county in California to commit to processing rape kits within 30 days. As part of the proposal, the Santa Clara County District Attorney agreed to clear the existing rape-kit backlog. The backlog was eliminated by February 2020, the average processing time for rape kits in Santa Clara County is now 16 days, and for top priority cases where there are imminent public safety concerns processing is done within 7 days.

 

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Strangulation Response

In 2019, the County launched and invested in an IPV Strangulation Response Pilot to ensure that survivors of IPV strangulation are offered forensic medical exams, medical care and advocacy services. In March 2021, Supervisor Chavez led the County to move out of the pilot phase into a County-wide response. The Board also allocated necessary resources to ensure successful implementation.  

 

Enforcement of Domestic Violence Court Orders Prohibiting the Possession of Firearms or Ammunition

Thanks to the leadership of Supervisor Chavez and the Office of District Attorney, the Board approved additional positions to ensure the enforcement of laws regulating firearm prohibitions for persons subject to domestic violence temporary and permanent restraining orders.

 

Intimate Partner Violence Services

In June 2018, under Supervisor Chavez’s leadership the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a historic 400% increase ($6.125 million dollars) in funding for services ranging from housing to mental health.  Santa Clara County receives more than 20,322 domestic violence hotline calls a year and previously spent less than one million dollars on services for intimate partner violence survivors.

 

Full Funding of the County's Two Rape Crisis Centers

Supervisor Chavez led the effort to fully fund the County's two state-authorized organizations that provide services to victims of sexual assault. The increased funding led to a significant increase in the number and availability of victim advocates, which led to a significant decrease in the amount of time victims had to wait for services.

 

Human Trafficking Commission

  • Since 2014, Supervisor Chavez has co-led the County of Santa Clara Human Trafficking Commission. The work of the Commission resulted in:
  • The establishment of the Law Enforcement to Investigate Human Trafficking (LEIHT) Task Force with the mandate to investigate and prosecute human trafficking and to educate the public and other agencies about human trafficking. 
  • County investments in victim-centered policies, services and preventative measures as well as in training and public awareness. 
  • Adoption of an ordinance relating to massage establishments, massage therapists, and massage practitioners which improves the County’s ability to regulate them and reduce the risk of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. 

©2021 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.