Saturday, November 8, 2008

NYT reports on public defender crisis

The current budget crisis is adding to the inequities in the criminal justice system. As workloads mount and budgets decrease, public defenders across the nation find themselves unable to adequately represent their impoverished clients. On Sunday, the New York Times reported on the catastrophe:

Citing Rising Workload, Public Lawyers Reject Cases

By ERIK ECKHOLM

MIAMI — Public defenders' offices in at least seven states are refusing to take on new cases or have sued to limit them, citing overwhelming workloads that they say undermine the constitutional right to counsel for the poor.

Public defenders are notoriously overworked, and their turnover is high and their pay low. But now, in the most open revolt by public defenders in memory, the government appointed lawyers say budget cuts and rising caseloads have pushed them to the breaking point.

The full article in Sunday's New York Times is here.

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