The Problem and Solutions

The failures of our governments to enforce poor people’s Constitutional right to counsel span the nation, with the terrible situation in New Orleans putting those problems on full display.   The following articles, reports, and organizations begin to describe the extent of the problem; the facts and data demonstrating how this right is disregarded across the country; the terrible costs borne by the people, families, and communities whose fundamental Constitutional rights are routinely denied; and what’s needed for America to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to all.

American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants 2017 report on Louisiana’s devastating neglect of indigent defense: article on ABA report, “Louisiana has one-fifth the public defenders needed”

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers report assessing “the root causes of perhaps the most prolonged and severe public defense crisis in the nation.

Orleans Public Defender Derwyn Bunton’s recent article about the public safety costs of public defense failures:

National Registry of Exonerations March 2017 infographic demonstrating their research results regarding racial disparities in wrongful convictions

Orleans Public Defender, which fights every day to provide for poor people’s fundamental Constitutional right to effective representation when accused of a crime in New Orleans:

The National Association for Public Defense, which engages public defense professionals in America to address the systemic failure to provide the constitutional right to counsel, and to collaborate with diverse partners to bring meaningful access to justice for poor people:

The Sixth Amendment Center, which seeks to ensure that no person faces potential time in jail without fist having the aid of a lawyer with the time, ability, and resources to present an effective defense, as required under the United States Constitution:
There are many other legal organizations in New Orleans and Louisiana that also provide important post-conviction representation for poor people wrongly convicted of crimes – many of whom suffered from inadequate representation prior to their conviction – including (but not at all limited to):

The Justice Center,, which houses:
The Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, a capital trial office providing indigent defense services, and
The Capital Appeals Project, the statewide office for capital appeals for the indigent in Louisiana.

Innocence Project New Orleans, which provides free legal assistance to prisoners seeking to prove their innocence and be exonerated for their wrongful convictions