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Gideon at 50: Three Reforms to Revive the Right to Counsel

  • Thomas Giovanni
  • Roopal Patel
Published: April 9, 2013

In Gideon v. Wain­wright, the Supreme Court recog­nized the consti­tu­tional right to an attor­ney for crim­inal defend­ants who could not afford one. But that was 50 years ago. Our crim­inal justice system has grown dramat­ic­ally since then — without the fund­ing neces­sary for public defend­ers to keep up with grow­ing case­loads and resource demands. Today, public defense offices are so over­worked and under­fun­ded that clients are not getting the legal defense they were guar­an­teed, further feed­ing our nation’s mass incar­cer­a­tion prob­lem. In this report, Thomas Giovanni and Roopal Patel exam­ine the numer­ous chal­lenges public defend­ers face in provid­ing legal repres­ent­a­tion to poor clients and propose three common sense solu­tions to ensure poor defend­ants get the legal repres­ent­a­tion they  need.