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The Champion

April 2005 , Page 50 

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News Briefs

By Malia Brink

Read more Public Defense columns.

 

ABA Reports That Nation’s Indigent Defense Systems Are ‘Mired In Crisis’

A report released by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants titled “Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” found that, 40 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, the American legal system still fails to protect the rights of the nation’s poorest defendants. “After holding year-long hearings in 2003 involving witnesses from 22 states, and then analyzing the extensive testimony we collected, we are troubled to find that nationwide most indigent defense systems are woefully inadequate,” said Bill Whitehurst, chair of the report committee.

The report primarily cites inadequate funding for the failings of the systems, noting that inadequate funding results in overwhelming case loads, insufficient case preparation resources, including investigators and experts, and deficient training

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