Client and Staff Stories

An Uphill Journey

~ by Alexis Carr, June 2021

When I was 7, my family moved to the Oceanview neighborhood in San Francisco, then a middle class, family-oriented community. Regrettably, this community was one of many in the Bay Area that fell victim to the crime and addiction epidemic that plagued the late 80s and early 90s, pushing well-to-do families out of the neighborhood, and leaving behind a community of predominantly poor African American families. 

This epidemic affected me on a personal level. Not only did I myself get caught up in this downward spiral, it also took away many people that were significant to me – family members, schoolmates, and friends that I used to play with on the streets. Lejon Lewis was one of them. Lejon’s mother and my grandmother were best friends, and with that we spent our childhoods side by side, crossing the street to each other’s house and together learning how to be grown men. Like myself, Lejon was also a victim of the addiction epidemic of San Francisco’s 90s, and while I was able to break away in 2009, Lejon succumbed to its powerful grip and passed away from an overdose in 2017.  

Lejon’s life and story was one that is shared by numerous other black residents not only in Oceanview but in the Bay Area and America – one of perpetuated generational trauma, caught in the endless cycle of poverty, addiction, and crime. Just like our African American ancestors, Lejon and many others have lost their lives in their struggle for freedom – no longer from slavery, but from the modern day’s social evils that still bind all of us by the wrists and ankles. And so in their names, I’ll raise a toast to Juneteenth, a symbol of the black community’s relentless uphill battle for freedom, and to commemorate those lives that were lost in its name.

Meet our Clinical Social Worker!

~ by Neal Aneja, May 2021

Neal Aneja – SF Pretrial’s Clinical Social Worker

As the on-site social worker at Pretrial, I work to help our clients with mental health concerns and connect them with important supportive services. This is done through my collaboration with SF Pretrial’s Assertive Case Management and In-Custody Referral staff, providing direct counseling and therapy for our clients, and making appropriate referrals. Ideally, our clients are connected to long-term providers in the community so they can continue to receive a variety of services after they have finished working with SF Pretrial. 

Dealing with the criminal justice system can be traumatizing enough, but it can be particularly challenging for folks experiencing mental health issues. Trying to stay compliant with their treatment plan while also juggling intense mental health symptoms, potential substance use, housing instability, and lack of access to essential resources can make it even harder for clients to complete everything being asked of them. 

The SF Pretrial team has been able to provide excellent services to our clients with mental health concerns for 45 years. By meeting our clients where they are at and offering non-judgmental support, staff can establish a rapport that helps them better engage with us and their treatment providers. Understanding our clients’ struggles and circumstances allows us to deliver compassionate care and provide targeted, effective interventions. With this foundational support, clients are then able to connect with services and begin the process of long-term growth that will be with them far beyond just their time with Pretrial.

Coming Full Circle: Once A Client, Today A
Member Of The SF Pretrial Family

~ by Karen Escalante and Alexis Carr, February 2021

“Working at SF Pretrial keeps me humble and in a grateful mood. Seeing clients and identifying with their struggle; substance abuse, living on the edge of being homeless, dealing with mental health issues such as depression and knowing that I had the opportunity back then, knowing about the resources that pretrial offers rather than taking advantage of the system. I now see it and recognize it” 

– Alexis Carr

The Policy & Evaluation team recently had a chance to sit down with SF Pretrial Program Assistant Alexis Carr to discuss his background and how his past experiences shaped the motivations, passion, and goals that he holds today.

Alexis Carr – SF Pretrial Program Assistant

San Francisco Pretrial was a blessing…

~ by Richard Hillard, July 2020

Richard Hillard (left) and his case manager, Tony Beliso (right)

To me, San Francisco Pretrial was a blessing. It came to me as a silver lining when my life hit its rock bottom. I had no shoes under my feet, no warm clothes to cover my body, and no roof over my head. With the pain of losing my wife still fresh and aching, I had come to accept that I was hopeless and helpless, and that was not going to change. Then, I got arrested. And when I was released to Pretrial after the arrest, I finally realized after more than a decade, that there were still people who cared for people like me, that my life was still loved and worth living.