NACDL - The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System

The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System

and Attorney Workload Standards

The Sixth Amendment's promise that every person accused of a crime is entitled to counsel is a hollow one when the attorney appointed lacks the time and resources to provide meaningful representation. In order to determine whether defenders in Rhode Island are facing a caseload crisis, NACDL, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (ABA SCLAID), and the accounting firm of BlumShapiro undertook an assessment of the Rhode Island Public Defender system ("RIPD").

Documents

Based upon the data gathered, the RIPD would require 136 full-time equivalent attorneys to provide the necessary minimum level of representation needed for the average 15,000 plus new cases assigned each year. As of July 2017, there were only 49 public defenders in the entire state. The findings of this study, along with the underlying data and analysis, are detailed in The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System and Attorney Workload Standards.