Sunday, April 15, 2007

Public Defenders, Prosecutors Face a Crisis in Funding

Public Defenders, Prosecutors Face a Crisis in Funding, Nat'l L.J. (, March 27, 2007:

A review by The National Law Journal shows that many public defender's offices across the country are strained beyond capacity or tipping into crisis.

Inadequate funding has led to constant turnover, staff reductions and spiraling caseloads.

* * *

In some jurisdictions, prosecutor's offices are not much better off. While salaries are slightly higher, prosecutors in states across the country are seeing the same budgetary stalemates and rising caseloads as their defense colleagues.
The article touches on examples in varied jurisdictions -- St. Louis, Chicago, Louisiana, New York state.

Malia Brink, indigent defense counsel for the Washington-based National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that exonerations help convey the importance of the issue:
"If you talk publicly about providing for criminal lawyers and better resources for lawyers, it's difficult to get people to understand why that's necessary. . . .

"But if you tell them the result of not providing those resources is that the wrong people go to jail and people who commit crimes remain free to commit other crimes, they understand the situation better. They show that public defense impacts public safety."

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