San Francisco Green Party Public Defender Candidate Questionnaire 2022

Due Date: Sat, Sep 3

Candidate Name: Rebecca Susan Feng Young
Phone Number: 415-990-3653
Web site:
Name of Campaign Manager: James Freeman, Freeman Political Strategies
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Major Endorsements:
I have the following significant endorsements from people who know my trial experience, management background and racial justice leadership: (Affiliations for identification purposes only.)

Geoffrey Francis Brown, the San Francisco Public Defender, 1978 - 2001.
Jane Brown, Chair, Public Defenders for Racial Justice.
Martha Chavarin, Director, Employment Law Investigations, Meta.
Petra DeJesus, Police Commissioner, Retired; Former Public Defender.
Demarris Evans, Former Chair, Racial Justice Committee, SF Public Defenders Office.
Lora Jo Foo, Labor Law Litigator/Local 2 Organizer, Retired.
Professor Peter Gabel, New College School of Law, Retired; Editor at Large, Tikkun Magazine.
Kathleen Guneratne, Assistant Public Defender, Alameda County; Former Manager, Research Unit, SF Public Defender; Former Staff Attorney, ACLU, Northern California, Litigation Unit.
Elizabeth Hilton, Head Attorney, Complex Litigation Unit, SF Public Defender.
Arcelia Hurtado, Civil Rights Attorney.
Mark Iverson, Attorney at Law, former San Francisco Deputy Public Defender.
Lisa Jaicks, Union Organizer, Unite Here.
Lucy Junus, Inner Mission Neighborhood Association.
Therese M. Leone, Chief Attorney, Berkeley Lawrence Lab.
Professor Susan Rutberg, Golden Gate University, Criminal Law, Criminal Trial Skills, Retired.
Sangeeta Sinha, Attorney at Law, former Deputy Public Defender, San Francisco.
Ida McCray, Families with A Better Future, Retired Deputy Sheriff
Prya Murad, Criminal Defense Attorney, former San Francisco Deputy Public Defender.
Qiana Washington, Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Attorney, former San Francisco Deputy Public Defender.

Who did you endorse for Mayor in 2019 (all 3 choices, if applicable): Mark Leno

1) Who else have you endorsed in other contests?

This question is overbroad, perhaps: Obama, twice. Newsom always. Biden-Harris 2020.

2) What do you think of the Death Penalty?

The Death Penalty is Antiquated, barbaric, and is a punishment that compounds tragedy. We human beings are evolving, but not fast enough to allow our humanity to catch up to our technology. The DP must be abolished by any advanced society. The DP's disproportionate impact on Black and brown men alone makes it singularly ripe for abolition.

3) How would you support the work of the Innocence Commission?

Post-conviction work is some of the most fulfilling work to which public defenders can commit.
I would expand the Public Defender Post-Conviction Unit to include another attorney and a full-time paralegal.
I would work with the District Attorney to make sure that she kept to her promise to keep moving forward the Innocence Commission's work started by Chesa Boudin.

4) We understand the Public Defender's office has a limited budget and staff. How would you address the current backlog of open criminal
cases in San Francisco?

There are critical issues facing the Public Defender's Office both externally and internally. Externally, the trial court backlog is affecting both attorney-client relationships and relationships with the court.
First, I would reorganize staff from the bloated management structure that now exists, to a fully staffed felony trial unit. (I would not fire anyone. The PDO needs the limited number of bodies it has.)
I would reduce the number of managers from 21 to 13, and would move qualified managers into the felony trial rotation, in order to reduce back-breaking caseloads.
This would not only cut caseloads by 20-25%, it would help felony attorneys to actually be prepared for the trials they are setting on the trial calendar. Cases should only be set for trial if they are ready for trial. The number of chief attorneys (5) is completely unnecessary. At least two of them are doing the job of the Public Defender.
Second, I would establish a more collaborative relationship with the District Attorney's office to settle misdemeanor and non-serious felony cases by diverting them to Collaborative Courts or Restorative Justice processes.

Internally, 1. Back-breaking caseloads are depleting morale; 2. Retention of experienced women litigators, who have left in droves; 3. Restoring transparency to office policy regarding promotions and elevations; 4. Establishing minimum standards for elevations and promotions. Currently, the only qualifications for promotion are whether the Public Defender wants you in management. One need not have experience as a trial attorney or a public defender in order to become a manager over attorneys who have decades of valuable experience trying cases.

5) How should the Sheriff's Office address the extreme staffing shortage?

Signing bonuses upon completion of training and 12 months on the job.

6) What do you think of closing 850 Bryant?

Great idea, but unlikely to happen in my lifetime. Half of it is unused. The courtrooms are an embarrassment with more broken seats than working ones and no modern technology. San Francisco lags behind federal courts and surrounding county courts with respect to its courtroom functionality and technology. The judges bemoan how antediluvian the courtroom facilities are and getting in custody people to the courtrooms and back is like traversing a labyrinth. It's a headache for everyone.
Currently, San Francisco's political leadership lacks the will to tackle this job.

7) What do you think of SF closing our Juvenile Hall?

I am all for it. The Juvenile Hall could easily be closed by the end of December 2022 or beginning of January 2023. The process is well under way, but the resistance is coming from the SF Juvenile Probation Department because of the resulting job losses to their department.
Juvenile Hall is a dehumanizing environment because it was designed for maximum control by limiting the movement of the kids detained there. Currently, there are approximately 11 youth in custody there. That is hardly an insurmountable number for whom to find alternatives if the home is not a safe environment. Politics is preventing the closure that should have happened by now.

8) What do you think of current police staffing levels?

At slightly over 2,000 police officers, staffing at SFPD is more than adequate for San Francisco's population. The average acceptable police to population ratio is 2 to 2.5 full-time officers per 1,000 residents. Post-pandemic, San Francisco has a highly fluctuating population, but it is currently around 815,000 residents. At 2 full-time officers per 1,000 residents, SFPD would be fully staffed at 1,630 officers; at 2.5 full-time officers per 1,000 residents, SFPD would be fully staffed at 2,037 officers.

9) Do you believe body cameras are working to prevent police
misconduct in San Francisco?

Yes, particularly regarding the use of excessive force. (notable exception being the shooting of two men under the Mariposa Street freeway underpass in May 2022. Some things are just incomprehensible.) Comparatively speaking, police shootings are greatly reduced from what they were prior to BWC - for which distribution began in 2016.
What also worked to prevent police misconduct was the police knowing that San Francisco had a District Attorney willing to hold them accountable for excessive force and the killing of unarmed Black and brown men. The police union actively worked to get rid of Chesa Boudin.

10) How would you use extra funding bestowed upon the Public Defender's
office? What do you think are the greatest areas of need?

a. Doubling the social worker staffing so that wraparound services can be provided to all our clients, not just those charged with serious cases. If the PDO is to contribute to public safety, decrease recidivism and break the cycles of addiction, homelessness and untreated mental health issues, we need all of our clients released to a place other than the street. That does not happen now because PDO does not have the staff to provide wraparound services for our incredibly vulnerable clients. But there has been an unwarranted increase in the number of chiefs and managers.

b. Increasing the number of paralegals by 2-3. Paralegals are critical support to attorneys for trial preparation and can be a vital link to other clients when the attorney is in trial. The more paralegal help there is, the more likely attorneys will be prepared for trial.

c. Increasing clerical staff so that there are two people at the front desk at all Office open hours, 8:00 - 5:00, including the lunch hour, and so that file clerks do not have to be pulled from their tasks to cover the front desk. Currently, clerks scramble to get their jobs done during the 8 hour work day. It's incredible how overlooked they are given they are the oil for the engine that runs the office.

Your positions (at the time) on selected current and past Propositions
(skip any for which you didn't live or vote in SF, or didn't take
a position at the time):

+ - :

[ + ] [ ] [ ] June 2022 Prop A (General Bond) - Yes
[ + ] [ ] [ ] June 2022 Prop C (Recall Reform) - Yes
[ ] [ - ] [ ] June 2022 Prop H (Boudin Recall) - No

[ ] [ ] [ ? ] Nov 2020 Prop G (16-17 y.o. voting, local elections)
[ + ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2020 Prop I (Real Estate Transfer Tax) - Yes

[ + ] [ ] [ ] June 2018 Prop F (Eviction Defense) - Yes
[ ] [ - ] [ ] June 2018 Prop H (Tasers for SFPD) - No

[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop D (Vacancy appointments) *lived in
Oakland in 2016
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop N (Non-citizen voting, school
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop Q (Prohibiting tents on public
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop 62 (Ending Death Penalty) *For 45
years, at every opportunity, I have consistently voted in favor of striking
down the death penalty.

Due Date: Sat, Sep 3, 11:59 pm.

Please submit by email to For more information, call
Barry Hermanson at 415-255-9494. Please return your answers in plain
text (not HTML, PDF, or Word format), so that we can post all
candidates' answers in the same format.

The SF Green Party will invite all candidates who return completed
questionnaires on time to speak and answer questions at our candidate
forum and endorsement meeting (scheduled for Wed, Sep 7 from 6:30 - 9
pm). Please note the earlier start time. We hope to finish all
candidate interviews by around 8. If you need to schedule a
particular time slot, or if you are unable to make the meeting, please
be in touch with us at Otherwise, we'll interview
candidates as you arrive. This will be a hybrid meeting, so you may
also talk to us via Zoom if you prefer. Our forum and endorsement
meeting will take place at the Redstone Building, on the third floor
(room TBA). The Redstone is located at 2940 16th Street (between
Mission and South Van Ness, 1 block from 16th St BART).

Completed questionnaires will be posted on our website,