As Covid-19 exacerbates the socioeconomic challenges faced by the most vulnerable Los Angeles (LA) residents, the responsibilities of the LA County Public Defender’s Office (PDO) have only expanded. As this office works to support equitable judicial policies, it requires a data management specialist with a deep understanding of systemic inequalities in the legal system. The FUSE Executive Fellow will lead the build out of a PDO Data Analytics Unit to spearhead various reform-oriented research projects.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
Los Angeles County operates the largest jail system in the United States, holding more than 15,000 people daily. Residents of color are disproportionately incarcerated, with Black residents accounting for only 9% of the total population but 29% of those imprisoned. Though most offenses in California are bail-eligible, nearly half of incarcerated persons remain detained due to pre-trial policies and high bond fees. These shocking numbers reflect the broader history of the intersections between race, health, and incarceration across LA County and the entire United States.
In recent years, LA County has embraced the opportunity to reduce reliance on incarceration, and is taking critical steps to create an effective and scalable model for de-carceration, cost-savings, reuniting families, and repairing communities. The LA County Public Defender’s Office (PDO), the nation’s oldest public defender, is tasked with undertaking various criminal and juvenile justice research projects intended to drive and inform policies for justice system reform. This includes research around ‘zero-dollar’ bail, determining if clients can successfully engage with the court system without being detained or held on bond; and research around justice involved youth, reviewing best practices around holistic support services.
Recognizing the critical role of this data and research in informing both operational and policy-level decisions, the LA County PDO has an opportunity to be at the forefront of indigent defense. Toward this end, the Public Defender’s Office seeks to partner with FUSE Corps to establish a Data Analytics Unit.
Starting in 2019, PDO embarked on a digital transformation initiative to modernize and restructure its operations—107-years’ worth of records and business processes. Starting with its technology infrastructure, PDO decommissioned it’s on-premise, outdated datacenters and fully migrated its server infrastructure to County Consolidated Datacenter and Public Cloud. A hardware modernization step allowed PDO to set the path forward for transforming its critical software systems. In 2020, PDO restructured 160-million criminal case records that resided on 24 different obsolete systems and databases as well as paper records into a client-centered, all digital, Client Case Management System (CCMS). Hosted on Salesforce, CCMS changed the use of technology in the office from solely archival and record retrieval to 100% transactional using technology. Every aspect of client representation is taking place on CCMS in real-time. PDO also decommissioned all stationary desktop computers, replacing them with laptops and mobile devices. This modernization journey allowed PDO to continue doing business during COVID—during the week of March 16, 2020, when Stay-At-Home orders were enacted, PDO’s staff were completely connected and productive with access to their clients’ data and were able to meet their clients using videoconferencing devices. In addition to business continuity, PDO’s transformation made data available to address resource planning in real-time. PDO is driving strategic operational restructuring to maximize the use of resources covering over 37 courthouses across the County of Los Angeles. PDO’s digital transformation and mobile strategy provided actionable data to the Board of Supervisors that drove innovative policies directly related to Board priorities including Alternatives to Incarceration, Immigration and Homelessness. It is imperative for PDO to expand its data analytics operations to maximize the use of its data repositories.
The FUSE Executive Fellow will work with the existing CCMS team to analyze current data streams, assist with consolidating various justice data reports to maximize the usability of data for internal operational decisions as well as external resource acquisition and policy making. The FUSE Executive Fellow, working under PDO’s Chief Information Officer, will establish relationships with County and external partners to expand data sources. The Executive Fellow will utilize this information to oversee initial evaluation of critical programs, projects, or initiatives. Once established, this unit will serve to collect, process, and utilize data from a more equity-conscious perspective, informing criminal justice reforms throughout LA County.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
Beginning in May 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow will quickly build deep relationships with a range of critical stakeholders including County PDO attorneys, community justice organizations, academic and research institutions, and other county departments to further enhance PDO’s use of data. The Executive Fellow will review existing data points and data streams, and identify gaps and potential areas of improvement, and more closely with CCMS developers and external system integrators to streamline data objects and data repositories.
Utilizing this information, the Executive Fellow will assist the CCMS team to streamline, consolidate and continue to develop CCMS dashboards for operational and policy use to better inform case management and office-wide decision-making. This will include formalizing research processes, establishing a data management policy to collect, store, and utilize this data, and supporting data migration into the new system, establish standard reporting and data terminology across all Department agencies. Current CCMS data repositories must be able to inform the department in creating policy and programs from a client-centered, contextually appropriate, pro-equity perspective.
In the next phase, the Executive Fellow will work to leverage untapped resources that sit at the intersection of equity and criminal justice in LA county. This includes processing and interpreting a wealth of unused data from the County’s law enforcement accountability group (among other county-based sources), and cultivate sustainable partnerships with local academics, research entities and community-based organizations. The Executive Fellow, with the PDO Chief Information Officer’s approval, will coordinate these relationships, including the development of data agreement language and revisit existing data MOUs with external entities, to address current gaps in data and ensure the PDO can garner future contributions to reform-oriented criminal and juvenile justice research.
Using their keen understanding of the historical biases in the justice system, the Executive Fellow will strengthen the capacity of the PDO to utilize this system. This will include ensuring buy-in from staff throughout the entire processes and highlighting the benefits of the new data/system – including budgetary and potential grant implications. The Executive Fellow will also conduct a baseline analysis, utilizing CCMS data dashboards, of existing programs such as the Public Defense Pilot Program (re-sentencing program) and Juvenile CARE Project, and share this analysis broadly with the PDO. This analysis will function as an example of how to utilize data to extract actionable and shareable insights that are reflective of the state of criminal justice in LA County.
Due to the number of partner organizations involved, and the sensitivities around data use in LA county, the successful applicant must be able to foster collaboration across silos and in politically charged environments.
By April 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
- In coordination with CCMS Team – Conduct existing data baseline analysis, build deep relationships across stakeholders to assess current system, formalizing research processes, establish a new data management policy to collect, store, and utilize data, and supporting data migration in a new system
- Build partnerships to support research assignments – Establish partnerships with academics, research entities and community-based organizations, integrate this data to enhance analyses and contributions to research
- Obtain stakeholder buy-in – Impart the importance of data mining and collection to the PDO management team and secure the buy-in of trial attorneys and other stakeholders, effectively communicate how to utilize new data/the new data system to extract actionable and shareable insights
- Executive Sponsor – Mohammad Al Rawi, Chief Information Officer, Public Defender’s Office
- PDO Executive Managers – Ruben Marquez, Chief of Staff and Thomas Moore, Assistant Public Defender
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in data management and analysis and demonstrated knowledge of the criminal justice system is strongly preferred for this project.
- Extensive experience in Big Data initiatives, synthesizing large data sets to establish actionable data points, reports and dashboards.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.