It’s Not A Justice System, It’s A Legal System

Nice article in the Times today about the ridiculously underfunded and undermanned public defenders office. Each of the attorneys has about 250 clients at any time, making it impossible for those clients – people accused of crimes – to receive meaningful representation. The article also has this nice comparison of the two sides in our adversarial system:

— The Caddo public defenders office’s annual budget is $3.3 million; the Caddo district attorney’s office’s budget is $6 million.
— Starting salary for Caddo public defenders is $38,000 to $40,000 a year; Starting salary for Caddo assistant district attorneys is $46,000.
— The highest paid public defender makes $77,000 a year; the highest paid Caddo assistant district attorney makes $128,000.
— The Caddo public defenders office has 16 staff attorneys; the Caddo district attorney’s office has 33 staff attorneys.

As part of our unit on the judicial branch, my civics class is going to watch “Gideon’s Trumpet” this week. It’s about Gideon v. Wainright, the case guaranteeing representation for poor people accused of crimes. I might follow it up with this article.

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