County of Marin - News Releases - Public Forum

For Immediate Release
January 10, 2020

Public Panel on Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Marin County’s Public Defender to speak at January 27 event in Sausalito

San Rafael, CA – Marin County Public Defender Jose Varela will join several other panelists January 27 for a public forum about efforts to prevent troubled local teens from venturing onto the wrong path and into a life of incarceration.

Sign outside the door of the Marin County Public Defender's Office says "139 - Public Defender"The Public Defender's Office, home to 38 employees, is on the first floor and the far north end of the Marin County Civic Center.
The Marin County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) invited Varela to share thoughts on ensuring an equitable education for all students and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. The free event is set for 6 p.m. Monday, January 27, in the multipurpose room of Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, 200 Phillips Drive, Sausalito.

Varela, the County’s Public Defender since 2010, is a former trial attorney who is active in many associations, steering committees, and groups that focus on social equity and cultural competency. He has led the Association of Latino Marin Attorneys and was the 2015 “Heart of Marin” Volunteer of the Year for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin. Under his leadership, the Public Defender's Office has created a widely respected internship program, mentoring young adults from all walks of life and guiding them to reach their potential.

Varela oversees a staff of 37 that provides legal defense for suspects who cannot afford paid professional representation in court. The Public Defender’s office handles thousands of cases per year, and it’s estimated that more than 500 annually involve people under age 21 from Marin. 

The ACLU said school suspensions are one of the key factors leading young people into the prison pipeline. The proposed solution is to work together to understand the causes and alternatives to suspension and prevent students from continuing down a path toward incarceration. Panelists will discuss Marin’s suspension rates, existing policies, and continuing education programs.

Attendees for the January 27 forum should RSVP online. Light food and refreshments will be provided.


Jose Varela
Public Defender
County of Marin

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 139
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6321
Email: Jose Varela
Public Defender website