« Extraordinary review of messiness of Prez Obama's clemency push | Main | GOP apparently eager to have Eric Holder as AG for at least one more month »

January 5, 2015

"Any broad criminal justice reforms ... will fail without first fixing the indigent defense crisis."

The title of this post is one notable point stressed by David Carroll in this Marshall Project commentary titled "Gideon’s Despair: Four things the next attorney general needs to know about America’s indigent defense crisis." Here is how it is explained:

America’s deficient indigent defense services produce a myriad of seemingly disconnected problems throughout the greater criminal justice system.  Why do convicted persons have difficulty re-entering society upon release from prison?  They do so, in part, because their public advocates are prevented from continuing to fight on their behalf for better conditions of confinement, and treatment and reentry programs after they are incarcerated.  Why is the United States one of the few countries in the world that still relies on bail?  The answer is that many states and counties do not appoint counsel until after bail hearings (and often not until after arraignment or indictment).  Without an impetus for change, the bail system continues unabated.

Point to almost any criminal justice issue — wrongful convictions, over-incarceration, non-violent offenders serving life sentences, etc. — and the root problem will be a lack of true advocacy on the part of people of insufficient means charged with or convicted of crime. Just as a doctor treating only the visible symptoms of an underlying ailment may fail the patient, the focus of any number of well-meaning advocacy groups to address the countless issues plaguing criminal justice without concurrently reforming indigent defense services will result in half-measures and unsustainable policies.  Your own criminal justice goals therefore are dependent on you continuing, and indeed redoubling, Mr. Holder’s past efforts.

January 5, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Any broad criminal justice reforms ... will fail without first fixing the indigent defense crisis.":


OK, this is the rent seeking without any make up on, nasty looking.

First, Gideon had $23 in quarters in his pocket after walking out of a place where it was reported a cigarette machine had been broken into. He spent more time in prison than necessary waiting for a retrial by a slick, high pay criminal defense lawyer who got him off, by lying and misleading the jury. No ACLU type for Gideon. As a result, he died of alcoholism to which he returned thanks to the Supreme Court. That happened only after he repeatedly beat up his wife. Please, use Gideon as an argument. He is a great model for the success of the public defender, which he did not ever have in his famous case.

If you are guilty, and need to get off, you must hire an expensive private defense lawyer. The public defenders to which they are referring have 200 clients each, and are mere messengers for the prosecutor. An email account would do a better job of advocacy than they do. If you say, attack the prosecutor, they will have to laugh, since they owe their salaries, not tot he client, but to the prosecutor. Given their massive experience, they could be as good as private lawyers, and the Dream Team. They are too lazy to work up a sweat for the lousy $80,000 they are paid. If they get 400 clients a year, they make $200 each. They are not even civil service, but at will employees. They may be fired the second the vile feminist lawyer running their office is having a bad day. So you get the minimum, not the maximum in indigent care.

If you want more, you will need tons more money for outside contractors, perhaps the same people doing a lousy job, who will do a better job once outside government.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 6, 2015 7:26:29 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB