Friday, August 4, 2017

Fix The System

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. A staggering 80% of the prisoners are represented by court appointed lawyers. These lawyers have enormous caseloads and sometimes never even meet the prisoners they have to defend for long periods of time. Often they only meat their clients moments before they have to appear before a judge. Many ask the judge for permission to delay the case in order to give them   more time to establish an alibi. This means more prisoners are in prison even longer just waiting for a trial or court appearances. As lawyers ask for delays judges are frustrated too because that means their court is backlogged and he too has too many cases to eventually decide on. Our justice system is slowly grinding to a halt because there are not enough public defenders hired by cities.
These over worked lawyers don’t even have a staff to help them. Jails are more crowded now than they ever has been. Many are innocent just waiting to be heard. People are being held for months just waiting to see their public defender. Court dates could be put off as much as six months with nothing going on to help solve a case. Prisoners who can’t afford a lawyer usually can’t afford bail either so the jails are filling up. Single jail cells are now sleeping as many as 4 people in a small area with mattresses on the floor. Before you know it, fights break out and frustration is high that can only bring even more charged against a prisoner. To make matters worse a prosecutor can earn as much as $15,ooo less than hired lawyers.
Folks who went through all the work during law school find themselves in a poorly paid job with too much work to do. They are frustrated because even if they knew they could make a difference, they can’t. The Constitutional right to an adequate defense is often overlooked. If people had lawyers at their first appearance, if they had lawyers when bail was being posted, there would be far less people awaiting a trial. Today we have over 2 million people incarcerated for much of the reason that our government is not funding an adequate number of prosecutors and are not funding the proper staff needed in a prosecutor’s office. Our government needs to address prison reform starting at the first appearances after being arrested for something.
America has the largest incarceration rate in the world simply because our government judicial system can’t get their act together. States are not contributing more than 2% of their budget nationwide to judicial reform in defense funding. The South Bronx is the poorest funded place in America. The office there combines their poor pay with fundraising. They hire specialized lawyers who work in teams. That team can encompass immigration attorneys, housing attorneys, family court attorneys and social workers because we all know when an adult is arrested and put in jail for any length of time, their family structure changes dram tally especially if they have children who didn’t do anything wrong but they suffer too. Our nation needs to at least learn from the South Bronx if they aren’t going to clean up the system.

Our new Justice Department with Jeff Sessions at the helm wants to put more people in jail from immigration reasons to smoking pot. Trump is spending a fortune hiring more ICE police to arrest people but is doing nothing about our failed courts and bulging prisons. 

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