JSERI Blog Archives

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gideon Alert: North Carolina prosecutors cry foul over disparate funding

On March 30, 2011, North Carolina prosecutors made a PowerPoint presentation to the state legislature claiming to be out-resourced by the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS).  Asserting that IDS attorneys only handle half of the total criminal caseload handled by prosecutors yet outspend the district attorneys by nearly 43.5% ($132 million to $92 million), one district attorney was quoted in the Progressive Pulse as saying, “We’re outspent and outgunned every day in the courtroom.” (Full PowerPoint presentation is available here. Please note the presentation contains autopsy photos some may find inappropriate).

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8:35 AM
Thursday, March 10, 2011

AL Chief Justice echoes call for criminal justice reform

On March 8, Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address, in which she urged the legislature to end the state's overreliance on incarceration of non-violent offenders. "[W]e must lock up violent and serious offenders for lengthy sentences so they cannot continue to harm innocent people.  However, where nonviolent offenders are concerned, there is an alternative to the costly cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending.  We need to be certain we are locking up those of whom we are afraid – not just those with whom we are mad."

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4:52 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2011

AG Holder addresses juvenile representation before National Association of Counties convention

On March 7, US Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the National Association of Counties at its legislative conference in Washington DC, focusing his remarks on the failure of state and local juvenile justice policies to address the underlying causes of delinquent behavior by children.  Often, the methods our justice systems maintain to punish youthful offenders – especially those accused of lesser offenses – result in increasingly poor behavior.  As a result, he argues, our communities are less safe, not more.

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4:02 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Watch the BJA Webinar on the Right to Counsel

For those who missed the March 8 webinar, "The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy," fret not ... We have posted the webinar onto our website, and you can watch it in its entirety here.  The webinar was presented by NLADA's research director David Carroll, on behalf of the USDOJ/BJA's National Training and Technical Assistance Center.

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5:03 PM
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Free Webinar: The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy

On March 8, 2011, JSERI director David Carroll will be conducting a national webinar entitled The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Program is geared toward policy-makers and judges, but services providers are welcomed. Please forward to key decision-makers in your state. Registration free, but limited.

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9:52 AM
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Missouri’s chronic right to counsel problems revisited

In a five-part spotlight series published on February 5, 2011, the Springfield News-Leader has focused once more on the state of Missouri’s chronic failure to provide a meaningful right to counsel as required under the Constitution.  Like all states, Missouri must provide counsel at public expense to those facing criminal charges who cannot otherwise afford to hire their own attorney.  The state intends for all right to counsel services to be provided to all indigent defendants through its statewide public defender system, but there are more people who require the public defender system’s services than it is set up to provide for.  Instead, the Office of the Missouri Public Defender has only enough resources to provide constitutionally effective representation to a percentage of those who are entitled to public representation.  

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1:15 PM
Friday, January 21, 2011

Louisiana seeks more effective sentencing; partners with Pew Center

The Times-Picayune reports the state of Louisiana is partnering with the Pew Center on the States in an effort to reduce the state's overall prison population, and reduce recidivism. The project comes as the state, like so many others across the nation, is facing a major budget shortfall; in Louisiana's case, $1.6 billion.

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9:53 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NYTimes editorial supports Indiana sentencing reforms

Last week, we noted an important effort to keep non-violent offenders out of Indiana's prisons system as a solution to the state's budget woes. On Monday, the New York Times published an editorial supporting those reforms, and praised Gov. Mitch Daniels' leadership in this effort. Well worth the read.

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11:25 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MN criminal justice policymakers brace for major cuts as state faces $6.2B deficit

Today's Star-Tribune has an important story chronicling the impact Minnesota’s $6.2 billion deficit has had upon the state’s justice system.  Cuts in funding in recent years continue to strain the state’s already beleaguered public defender system.  Stakeholders are bracing themselves for even more budget cuts this coming year.  

"I cannot overestimate the importance of this issue," said Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. "The success of our democracy depends on a vibrant, fully functioning justice system ... We can't put the people in prison that we're afraid of if we don't have an adequately funded justice system."

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11:01 AM
Friday, January 14, 2011

Indiana Chief Justice supports state's reclassification efforts

Indiana's chief justice during his annual State of the Judiciary Speech backs criminal justice reforms that propose to keep non-violent offenders out of the prisons system, reports the Indianapolis Star.  "Making good decisions about which offenders are so risky that a prison bed is the only sound solution and which ones can be treated adequately through local alternatives makes all the difference in the world for public safety, recidivism rates, employability of offenders and the dollars we spend on corrections."

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11:59 AM
Friday, January 14, 2011

Gideon Alert: Ignoring the 6th Amendment in Broward County, Florida Municipal Courts

It is an all too common occurrence for misdemeanor courts in the United States to pressure people charged with misdemeanors into waiving their right to counsel without adequately informing them of the consequences of doing so.  Courts defend such practices as an attempt to expedite the processing of cases and save money, but the Sixth Amendment does not allow this type of shortcut.  And, the consequences for unrepresented people can be severe, such as loss of public housing, deportation, inability to serve in the armed forces, ineligibility for student loans, and significant financial penalties.

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8:00 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ohio's Chief Justice calls for reform of probation system

An Associated Press story today notes the counter-productive consequences of disproportionate sentences on low-risk, non-violent offenders. By "exposing them to harsher probationary terms than they require" and "removing minor offenders from their communities, families and jobs makes it much more likely they'll commit more crimes and go back to prison." In the face of Ohio's ongoing budget woes, the state's chief justice says now is the time for sentencing reform.

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11:20 AM
Friday, January 7, 2011

Prominent conservatives take up the call of criminal justice reform

“The criminal justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it,” wrote former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a January 7, 2011 Washington Post Op-Ed on behalf of other prominent conservatives making up the Right on Crime Campaign. Given the economic landscape of most states, Gingrich argues that there is an urgent need to address the “astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential.”  Knowing that “there are more humane, effective alternatives,” the Right on Crime Campaign demands that “it is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners.” 

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12:00 AM
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Editorial calls for solutions to Oklahoma's right to counsel system

The editors at The Oklahoman, lamenting the state's indigent defense system "gasping under the weight of too many cases, too few attorneys and too little funding," have called for solutions "that are smart, not just tough, on crime."

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12:00 AM