Jun 06, 2022
Clean Slate Program
Jun 06, 2022
By Mary Sackett et al.
Contributing Authors: Assistant District Attorney Otis Bruce Jr., Public Defender David Joseph Sutton, Probation Chief Marlon Washington, District Attorney Lori Frugoli, and Mary Sackett.
The world is tough to navigate. It is constantly changing, confusing, and often overwhelming—and having a criminal conviction on your record is a complexity multiplier. Fortunately, for those who have paid their debts to society, the County of Marin’s Clean Slate Program is aimed at removing some of the barriers for those looking for a fresh start.
The criminal justice system—including the war on drugs, three-strikes legislation and many current immigration laws—have been unequally enforced. Criminal records can be crippling, costly, and limit employment options and opportunities. Without self-sufficiency, a job and hope, recidivism increases.
The Clean Slate Program aims to remove some of the barriers by clearing a participant’s record, terminating their probation, or dismissing their conviction. The program synchronizes help from the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Probation Department at one place and one time. The services from the three agencies, in addition to the Department of Health and Human Services, brings assistance directly to residents in their own neighborhood. “Collaborating with our justice partners fulfills our initiative to help qualified applicants expunge and reduce their prior convictions,” added District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli.
Clean Slate hosted an inaugural Marin City event in February 2022. The event linked together Black History Month, historically Black Marin City, and Black leaders in criminal justice. Dozens showed up to take advantage of the programs. On June 1st, the Clean Slate Program was at the Multicultural Center of Marin in San Rafael. Those seeking to clean up their record brought relevant documents, including past correspondence and Department of Justice records. Spanish translators were on hand to help with health or immigration-related relief as well. The Department of Health and Human Services offered assistance with public benefits such as Medi-Cal, CalFresh food assistance, CalWORKS services, employment training, and general financial relief for families. COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters were available as well. Plans are in the works to create similar events in other Marin neighborhoods where needs are particularly strong.
The Clean Slate program is the brainchild of Public Defender David Joseph Sutton, Assistant District Attorney Otis Bruce Jr., Probation Chief Marlon Washington, and D’Angelo Paillet, Division Director of Social Services, Employment and Training in the Marin Health and Human Services Department. “The collaboration toward resident self-sufficiency is in the best interest of the residents, the community, and the judicial system. This is a win-win.” said David Joseph Sutton
Assistant District Attorney Bruce added that “Our Clean Slate Program is intentional and in line with social justice and equity initiatives, and inspired by the County’s 2 Year Internal and External Action Plan addressing the need in our county for more connections to the community and representation around the issues of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, Innovation and Change. As Criminal Justice Partners and representatives of our county’s departments, we are obligated to carry out this important plan and this important work.”
Bruce and Sutton explain how this kind of one-stop-shop collaboration aims to bring county services out of the Civic Center and into communities of need. Bringing government into the community to remove barriers, answer questions, and connect residents and services breaks down access to justice barriers and is good policy.
Mary Sackett has dedicated the past 20 years to service in Marin County. She practiced law for 13 years in Marin, before transitioning to work for the Board of Supervisors. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Marin County Bar Association.
Otis Bruce, Jr. currently serves as Assistant District Attorney, Marin County District Attorney's Office. He has over 30 years in government legal related work starting his career in 1988 as a volunteer legal intern with the Marin County Counsel's Office. In 1990, he pursued his public interest career goal to become a prosecutor starting as a Legal Assistant, Trial Deputy District Attorney, Supervising Deputy District Attorney and now the Assistant District Attorney. Otis served as Marin District Attorney's Office's first Community Justice Coordinator. He currently serves as Marin District Attorney's Office Social Justice, Community Outreach Liaison and Policy Coordinator, Student Internship and Career Development Coordinator and Program Director for the Victim/Witness Services Unit. In 1995, Otis was hired as Marin County DA's Office first African American prosecutor.
David Joseph Sutton has dedicated his legal career to indigent defense and social justice. His legal career began with the Marin County Public Defender’s Office during the summer of 2006 as a legal intern. He returned as a Deputy Public Defender in 2009, and David was appointed to serve as the Public Defender in September of 2021. Before returning to Marin County, David was the Los Angeles Trial Chief at the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California. He was also a Deputy Federal Public Defender for over a decade. David has represented clients in various criminal matters, from misdemeanors to clients facing decades-long mandatory minimum prison sentences, white-collar and medical frauds, as well as the federal death penalty. David currently sits on the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Board of Governors.
Marlon Washington is the Chief Probation Officer for the County of Marin. Chief Washington has 25 years of experience in the field of adult and juvenile Probation. Chief Washington began his probation career in Contra Costa County, as a Temporary Probation Counselor. Advancing through the ranks, he has held the following positions, Probation Counselor, Adult/Juvenile Deputy Probation Officer, Institutional Supervisor I, Probation Supervisor Adult/Juvenile, Institutional Supervisor II, and Napa County Juvenile Hall Superintendent. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with an Emphasis in Law and Society and a Minor in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of California, Davis. His philosophy and approach to probation aligns with restorative justice, evidenced based practices and forging community relationships.
D’Angelo Paillet, MBA is the Social Services Division Director for the Employment and Training branch of Social Services for Marin County’s Health and Human Services. D’Angelo has over 20 years of experience working in the social services field. D’Angelo began his career in Marin County as a Senior Clerk and has worked his way up to Division Director of the Employment and Training Branch. D’Angelo holds a Bachelor of Art’s degree in Management with a minor in Social Action and Community Change, and a Master of Business Administration from Dominican University of California. He thrives on building community collaborations and discovery how to work with community partners. D’Angelo believes in being client focused, service oriented, and flexible.
Lori E. Frugoli currently serves as the District Attorney, Marin County District Attorney's Office. She is a Marin native and was first inspired to keep Marin safe when she participated in a Law Enforcement Ride-a-Long program while attending Terra Linda High School. She was one of the first women to volunteer as a Reserve Police Officer in San Rafael where she later became a Police Officer. While at Santa Rosa she investigated arsons, fraud and embezzlement cases and served as a member of the Hostage Negotiations Team. Lori worked her way through law school while working for the Marin County Sheriff's Office. In 1990 she became a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Marin and in 2018 she was elected to serve as Marin County's District Attorney. Lori has earned many prestigious awards and recognitions including the Champion for Children award from the Jeannette Prandi Children's Center.