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Law & Justice

Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: David Muhammad, Alameda Co Chief Probation Officer

David Muhammad and David Onek

In Episode #25, Alameda County Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad discusses California's criminal justice realignment, his efforts to reform Washington, DC's juvenile justice system, the importance of building community partnerships, how he went from being a youth on probation in Oakland to the Chief Probation Officer, and more.

David Muhammad Interview Highlights:

Muhammad on California’s Criminal Justice Realignment:

“This is a major shift in criminal justice management. Because of the Supreme Court ruling that said California must reduce its massive incarceration in the state, and secondly, because of the incredible deficit that the state is in, they decided to reduce their responsibility for the criminal justice system and shift it to county responsibility. This shift from state to county responsibility, I completely support. Criminal justice is better administered on the local level. The state quite honestly has done a pretty horrendous job. The challenge with this is, this is ultimately at the end of the day a move to reduce the state budget deficit, so they are doing it on the cheap.”

Muhammad on Becoming a Chief Probation Officer:

“I never imagined I would be the Chief Probation Officer of any place, but certainly [not] of a place where I grew up and was on probation.”

Muhammad on Community Partnerships:

“The vast majority of the people under the supervision of my department are in the community. We have to have strong supervision and law enforcement, but we also have to have strong community partnerships where people are getting services, supports and opportunities, we’re helping them finish school, we’re helping them get a job, we’re helping them get the support that they need.”


The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The Podcast gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

Podcast host David Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

You can find more information on the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast and listen to all past episodes on the Podcast web site.

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