On March 19, 2019, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center (PJDC) President Patti Lee was recognized as a champion of peace and nonviolence and visionary community leader by the City and County of San Francisco during the Board of Supervisor’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
Lee was recommended for this honor by District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai. When introducing Lee, Safai noted that: “[her] innovative practices, which include intervention by social workers, and offering young people meaningful treatment have become a model not just for San Francisco and the area, but for the rest of California and the nation. [She] . . . has transformed San Francisco’s juvenile justice system into a national model for rehabilitation and innovation.”
Safai also recalled the praise late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi gave Lee: “Jeff Adachi stated that Patti’s tireless advocacy over the past 40 years has changed the lives of countless children and youth. When she was hired back in the late 70’s, San Francisco had one of the highest rates of sending youth to state lockups. Today, we have the lowest rate of any county in California.”
Surrounded by colleagues from her tenure as a pioneering juvenile defender, Lee accepted the honor on behalf of Adachi and thanked her friends, family and colleagues for their support:
“We all share the same goal – and I look at my group of friends and family here – to prevent youth from ever entering the juvenile justice system. Secondly, for those who touch the system, we want to ensure that touch is light, and they do not ever go deeper into the system. We’ve been fortunate to have an office that’s provided holistic defense to move youth of the system so they can overcome barriers to education, employment success, and ultimately, everything we want, which is to lead productive lives and to give back to our communities. Through our work locally and statewide, we’ve advocated to improve juvenile defense, to provide for collaboration with families and communities, and with our justice partners.”
Since 1996, the San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women, in partnership with the city’s mayor and board of supervisors, has celebrated Women’s History Month by recognizing the contributions of women in the community. This year’s celebration focused upon visionary women, who as champions of peace and nonviolence, through their public service and leadership, have improved the quality of life for all San Franciscans.
In addition to her work as the Managing Attorney of the Juvenile Division of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and PJDC President, Lee has served on multiple boards, commissions and working groups aimed at shaping juvenile justice policy on a state and national level.