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  • Public Defender Social Workers and Mitigation Specialists


    The Pima County Public Defender's Office employs a team of social workers and mitigation specialists who work together with clients involved with felony, juvenile delinquency, or dependency cases.  The team works with clients and their attorneys to assist in accessing resources and by providing client-centered mitigation.  Additionally the team strives to address the underlying issues that lead to a client’s involvement with the legal system by providing support and advocacy on behalf of clients. 

    Jennifer Salem-Russo

    Team Leader

    Jennifer Salem-Russo is a graduate of the Rhode Island College School of Social Work, earning her MSW in 1999.  She is a licensed clinical social worker in Arizona, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Jennifer has worked in the social work field assisting children and adults for over 30 years in a variety of settings including hospital, residential, and outpatient.  Jennifer most recently worked in Massachusetts for the past 20 years and was the Director of an outpatient trauma focused therapy program for children and families.  Jennifer’s interests and passions include advocating for social justice and promoting trauma informed care.  She has been with the office since January 2020.


    Alisa Cunningham

    Alisa Cunningham brings over 20 years of public service to the Public Defender’s office, after receiving her Master in Public Administration and Bachelor of Family Studies from the University of Arizona. Alisa has served as a child welfare advocate in both the private and public sector. Alisa’s experience ranges from case management, team decision facilitator to program management.  Alisa is bilingual and hails from Nogales Arizona.  Alisa has volunteered in youth activities and advocacy for several years.   Alisa has been with Pima County Public Defense Services since June 2019.

    Bryan Smith

    Bryan Smith has been a Mitigation Specialist with the Pima County Public Defender’s Office since 2016. Bryan is uniquely qualified to perform his duties as a Mitigation Specialist.After serving over 25 years in prison, Bryan was released from San Quentin State Prison in 2007. Bryan developed curriculum related to incarcerated populations and/or youth programs. The curriculum is designed to enlighten the offenders as to the impact of their crimes. He helped train 50 inmates at Solano State Prison to become certified addiction counselors. Bryan has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona.He is highly respected in the field of Reentry and continues to work with individuals, families, organizations and communities to create parole plans and individualized treatment plans for success.He is a regular trainer/speaker at universities, colleges, sober living environments and faith-based communities.He speaks on panels related to Restorative Justice. He has consulted with several reentry projects, and has been consulted by city mayoral and state congressional campaigns in California. In 2006 he appeared on KQED’s California Connected and CNN’s Larry King’s Live from San Quentin.

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    Public Defender

    33 N. Stone Ave., 21st Flr
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Phone:  (520) 724-6800
    Fax:   (520) 770-4168

    Monday - Friday
    8 a.m. - 5 p.m., except on holidays


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