Louisiana has always been a backward place for criminal justice, the only state in the union that funds its public defenders' office with conviction fees, leaving a public defender's office that averages $238 spent on each accused.
If you're poor and arrested in Louisiana, you will rot in jail for months or even years waiting for a trial which will be indifferently argued by a grossly overworked public defender. As a result, the majority of poor arrestees plead guilty, and 85% of those accused of crimes are poor. Black people in Louisiana are jailed at four times the rate of white people.
Now, a group of civil rights attorneys and pro-bono high-ticket corporate lawyers have launched a class action against the Louisiana system, arguing "that Louisiana has systematically denied poor people their constitutional right to criminal defense."
It got worse as crime boomed and tough on crime policies followed. Caseloads for public defenders jumped from 69,000 in 1986 to 114,000 by 1992. During that same period, funding fell from $157 to $99 per case. A 1992 report commissioned by the Louisiana Supreme Court was “on the verge of collapse.”
Now it’s finally happened. In each of the past six years, Louisiana’s average caseload per attorney has been more than twice—and as much as five times—Louisiana public defender standards (PDF). By 2014, public defenders collectively had a budget of just $50 million to provide representation in nearly 250,000 cases, or about $200 per case. Two years later, in the spring of 2016, districts were so overburdened that 33 out of 42 public defender offices across the state had began refusing to accept certain new clients.
It was around that time that lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, and Jones Walker LLP jointly began building their case.
Louisiana Can’t Afford to Pay for Public Defenders, So Inmates Are Pleading Guilty
[Jake Scobey-Thal/Daily Beast]
Timothy writes, “Diego Gómez is a Colombian conservation biologist. When he was a college student, he shared a single research paper online so that others could read and learn from it, just as he did. Diego was criminally prosecuted for copyright infringement, and faced up to 8 years in prison.”
Before the FCC stopped taking comments on its plans to destroy Net Neutrality (but after so many people rallied to tell it not to that its site crashed and the agency manufactured a fake denial of service attack to avoid admitting how much America hated its plans), the FCC’s comment form was flooded with 128,000 […]
Rudy Carcamo-Carranza was an undocumented restaurant worker in Michigan wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run; the FBI and ICE used IMSI catchers — powerful, secretive cellphone tracking tools that the agencies bill as a kind of superweapon in the war on terror — to catch him and put him up for deportation.
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]
Loot Crate is a subscription service that delivers a box of curated pop culture goods to your doorstep. To sample their geeky wares, you can order a single mystery box exclusively from the Boing Boing Store.Each month Loot Crate sends you 6-7 unique items and apparel, including collectibles, books, and t-shirts. Pulling inspiration from all […]