Santa Barbara Public Defender and VISTA Responds to COVID

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Release Date: 
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Amanda, our VISTA member in Santa Barbara, California, has used her strong writing background to build a COVID-19 response. Read on to see how Santa Barbara is using VISTA to address the crisis. 

In Santa Barbara, California, pre-COVID-19, Amanda was researching, interviewing attorneys, and working with the county government to create a social media and marketing strategy for the Santa Barbara Public Defender Office. In the face of COVID-19, the Santa Barbara Public Defender knew their clients needed information quickly about rapidly changing court changes. Amanda fast-tracked the social media and marketing project to build a Facebook page, to form relationships with media, and to create infographics to be posted on the office doors and Facebook page. 

Through these efforts, a Spanish speaking attorney with the office has appeared on multiple Spanish-speaking media outlets with court and contact information. Amanda submited press releases to English-speaking media outlets around court changes and COVID-19 responses. In the first weeks of April, the Santa Barbara Public Defender has been featured over ten times in local media, bringing attention to the plight of incarcerated clients and the impact of COVID-19 on the court system. The office has worked diligently to ensure that the materials are in Spanish and English to meet client needs as well. 

The increased media presence is important to inform the public of court changes and the importance of public defense. It is too early to know how the increased media presence will impact Santa Barbara Public Defender’s community reputation or relationships with clients. They hope the stronger media partnerships will lead to increased awareness and support for indigent defense.