Today, the New York City Council Committees on Courts & Legal Services and Public Safety held a joint hearing in City Hall on how the city evaluates its provision of indigent criminal defense services. Nicole Austin-Hillery testified from a national perspective and shed light on best practices to improve indigent defense at the local level.
In the following testimony, Nicole Austin-Hillery outlines a platform of recommendations being advanced at the national level and endorses the consideration by this body of similar reforms to improve indigent defense at the local level. This testimony also highlights the improvement of indigent defense as a vehicle to lessening racial disparities, a focus of Brennan Center justice program work.
Specifically, Nicole Austin-Hillery urges the Committees to consider:
- Assistance from the Department of Justice;
- Working to ensure support for adequate funding;
- Brennan Center work on funding reform for federal grants as part of the larger effort to ensure adequate funding for indigent defense;
- Ensuring leadership roles are filled that provide support for indigent defense;
- Using legislation as a tool to protect and advance legal services for the poor.