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John Wesley Hall Testifies on Capitol Hill
By John Wesley Hall
The Growing National Crisis in Indigent Representation
Note: NACDL President John Wesley Hall testified on June 4, 2009, at the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on the growing national crisis in indigent representation. This article is based on the written statement he submitted to the subcommittee.
Criminal justice reform efforts often have noted that extensive problems exist in misdemeanor courts, but rarely have reform efforts focused exclusively on these courts. The explosive growth of misdemeanor cases is placing a staggering burden on America’s courts. A recent study conducted in 12 states resulted in an estimated median misdemeanor rate of 3,544 per 100,000.1
Lack of Time and Resources
Legal representation for misdemeanants is absent in many cases. When an attorney is provided, crushing workloads often make it impossible for the defender to effectively represent her clients. Across the country, misdemeanor defenders report
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