Systems that operate in a constant state of crisis not only violate the Constitution, but are bad public policy and inconsistent with principles of good government. Paying for quality counsel saves taxpayer money by ensuring that courts run more efficiently, that jails only pay to incarcerate those who truly need to be incarcerated, and that trials and sentencings are fair and without error, thus preventing the expense of appeals and retrials.
Let President Obama and your congressional representatives know that you care about the fairness of our criminal courts. Ask them to support proper funding and support for state and local public defense so that America can keep our promise of “justice for all.”
Read more at the Criminal Justice blog and at http://www.nlada.org/.
Historically, and despite the right to counsel’s grounding in the United States Constitution, the federal government has done little to fund or support quality public defense in state or local criminal justice systems. President Obama’s Justice Department and the new Congress can show they are serious about justice for everyone by: Supporting balance in the allocation of federal funds for state and local criminal justice systems through explicit language in statutes and regulations; Identifying indigent defense as a priority area for training and technical assistance; Establishing and funding a program of loan repayment assistance as required by section (c) of the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2008 to assist in the recruitment and retention of public defenders and prosecutors; and Conducting a nationwide study to determine the extent to which people are convicted without access to counsel in misdemeanor and low-level felony cases