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Bexar County DA, Public Defender, state lawmaker discuss justice reform

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SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, Chief Public Defender Michael Young, and state Rep. Ina Minjarez of San Antonio discussed justice reform as part of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Finding the Way Forward series.

Jessica S. Henry moderated the event. Henry is a former public defender in New York City, a member of the Department of Justice Studies faculty at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and the author of “Smoke But No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes That Never Happened.”

Gonzales, Young, and Minjarez addressed topics including: indigent defense in Bexar County and the role of the public defender’s office, bail reform, the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on the poor, and weigh in on the national conversation about cutting police budgets and ensuring police accountability.

Gonzales took office as Bexar County DA in 2019. He is a former prosecutor, former criminal defense attorney, and has served as a magistrate and municipal judge for the City of San Antonio.

The county hired Young in 2015 to head the Bexar County Public Defender’s Office, which was created in 2005. Young has been a prosecutor in the Rio Grande Valley and served as a federal public defender.

Minjarez was elected to the Texas Legislature in 2015 in a special election. She is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the House’s first Criminal Justice Reform Caucus.