The Indigent Defense Crisis: The Betrayal of Constitutional Rights
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I work from the premise that the problems within the indigent defense systems reflect the government's inability to address the problems of the indigent in every bureaucratic system of the United States. Our system of education fails to educate, our system of welfare fails to prevent poverty, corrections fail to stop crime. The ideology of the United States, "Work hard and you will succeed!" is failing these citizens daily. The failure of the system often causes the children of the poor to envy and emulate the criminal heroes living within the confines of their depressed areas. This only causes the continuance of criminal activity which eventually finds its way into one of the indigent defense systems of the country. There is a definite answer to the question, ts there an indigent defense crisis in the country. The answer is yes. There is a crisis for the attorney who defends the poor, and the crisis has severe implications for the defendants. Due to the variety of systems across the country the indigent defense crisis is a difficult problem to approach. I have chosen to specifically discuss three systems, Indianapolis, Manhattan and Detroit. I feel that the problems existing in these three systems are common throughout the country. The crisis is often addressed as the indigent defender's problem yet it is seldom addressed as the indigent defendant's problem. The quality of indigent defense in the United States differs for each person according to their socioeconomic status, skin color, ethnic background and appearance. By law and ethics, the judges, members of juries, and the servants of the criminal justice system are supposed to be unbiased and unseeing. It has become evident that this ideal ts something for which to strive. It is a goal to be reached, not something that just occurs because there are laws dictating it. The system (a symbol of formal rationality), unable to erase its human tendencies (substantive rationality), sends signals to the poor of the United States. Signals that say that the poor can save themselves and that the country owes them nothing. These are signals · that the larger governmental systems cannot afford to send and could in fact be avoided.