2011 -- District of Columbia, Maryland, NATIONAL LEVEL, Rhode Island
Justice Policy Institute.
Link to research
ABSTRACT & CITATION
This policy paper from the Justice Policy Institute links underfunded public defense systems to mass incarceration. It first gives an overview of the causes of underfunding and the effects the limited resources have on the quality of defense representation. It then describes five ways that poor public defense can increase incarceration: more pretrial detention, increased pressure to plead guilty, more wrongful convictions, excessive and inappropriate sentences, and increased barriers to successful reentry. It assesses the “costs” of these forms of incarceration in terms of human suffering, financial burden on taxpayers, and erosion of public trust in the legal system. Special attention is paid to the outsize portion of these costs that is paid by people of color and low-income communities. This paper argues that employing a community-oriented approach to public defense improves the quality of representation and reduces incarceration. Public defender offices in Washington, DC; Baltimore, Maryland; Rhode Island; and the Bronx, New York, are described as models of the holistic, client-centered approach. In order to improve the justice system, the Justice Policy Institute recommends that public defenders follow national standards for indigent and community-oriented defense, collect data about their practice, and participate in the policy-making process.
Taylor, K., Justice Policy Institute. (July 2011). System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense.Topics: Caseloads, Community Relations, Ethical and Professional Responsibilities, Experts, Funding, Independence of Defense Providers, Investigation, Juveniles, Misdemeanors, Resource Disparity, Salaries, Supervision, Support Services, Training
Link to research
Last revised: June 11, 2015 4:09 pm