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Citizen Involvement in Virginia
By NACDL Staff
Those involved with the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) agree that it
has been a critical force in building an efficient and high-quality
public defender system in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. State
Delegate Mitch Van Yahres spent years advocating the creation of a
public defender office in his area. He says, “This is one of the
occasions where the system worked well. A newspaper wrote a story about
the problem, and the public picked up on the issue. We worked a bill
through the legislative process, overcame many obstacles, and eventually
had a public defender office.” Because of the community’s involvement
in the creation of the Public Defender Office, he notes, “someone is
paying attention to the program and its results. The Citizens Advisory
Committee gives the office that oversight. You have a grassroots-level
public group that’s right in the middle of the action.”
Grace Tinsley, a long-time activist in Charlottesville, was part of a
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