On this episode of Aider & Abettor, California State Assemblymember Ash Kalra joins Sajid and Avi. Ash is the first Indian American state legislator in California. Before being elected to the California State Assembly, Ash was a public defender in San Jose, CA (at the same office as Sajid and Avi) for over 10 years and then served as a San Jose City Council member for 8 years.
In the Opening Statement, Ash describes his path to public defense and then to elected office. Ash reflects on representing clients in drug cases during the height of Three Strikes and the war on drugs. The three share stories about Indian Public Defender misidentifications. They also reflect on the experience of pursuing careers in law (specifically public defense) as children of South Asian immigrants.
In the Deep Dive, Ash, Avi and Sajid discuss recent major criminal justice reforms in California, changes unimaginable just a few years ago such as the establishment of a tiered sex offender registry. They break down other reforms that target mass incarceration on the front end by eliminating sentence enhancements and allowing judges to use their discretion and on the back end by creating new parole opportunities for young offenders and the elderly in our prisons. They discuss what the next frontier of criminal justice reform will and should look like.
At the end of the show, Sajid and Avi share their “Things,” both reflecting on special, memorable moments with clients.