Mar 2, 2010

Indigent Defense in Crisis

On February 18, 2010, for the first time in ten years, the Department of Justice hosted a conference on the current state, and future, of indigent defense in the U.S. Admitting that the indigent defense system exists in a state of "crisis," the Attorney General recognized that many of the 80% of defendants who cannot afford a lawyer go without the 6th amendment's guarantee of counsel. To hear Eric Holder's speech, click here.

Only a few days ago, the Dept. of Justice confirmed the development of a new program aimed at low-income individuals, called Access to Justice. This program will be lead by constitutional scholar and professor, Lawrence Tribe and will address the systemic inadequecies that contribute to the "crisis" in indigent defense. Additionally, as NPR reports,Tribe will also look to programs outside of the criminal justice system, such as drug courts and mental health courts to address the problem. Tribe assumed his new role as senior counselor for Access to Justice this Monday.