When the Money Runs out for Public Defense, What Happens Next? | The Marshall Project
by Oliver Laughland
Would a woman in Lexington, Ky., who faces fraud charges, still be in jail if her lawyer had the time to appeal a $40,000 bail bond?
Will a 50-year-old illiterate man in Cole County, Mo., charged in August with vehicular assault and facing over a decade in prison, be assigned an attorney with the resources to defend him?
Justice For Some
Part one of a three-part series about the underfunded public defenders of Louisiana.
This series was reported in partnership with Guardian US, the award-winning US digital edition of the Guardian. Download the Guardian app, sign up to be a Guardian Member, or follow Guardian US on Facebook or Twitter.
How many of the 30 defendants present for a single “mass plea” hearing in Louisiana’s 16th Judicial District in June would have pleaded not guilty if they’d had more than 20 seconds to meet with their lawyer?
In 1963, the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court ruling enshrined the constitutional right of indigent criminal defendants — those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer — to receive legal counsel. But 53 years later, as the rate of incarceration across the country has more than quadrupled, and up to 90 percent of criminal defendants in the U.S. qualify as indigent, this mainstay of the justice system has reached a breaking point....