Tag Archives: right to counsel

Lowest State Indigent Defense Expenditures in Five Years

Fact: In 2012, state governments spent $2.2 billion on indigent defense services, the lowest total in five years. 

Source: Indigent Defense Services report, Bureau of Justice Statistics


95% of federal convictions are without trials

Fact: 95% of federal convictions are without trials. For drug-related federal offenses, the figure is 97%.

Source: An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Human Rights Watch, covered by Salon

“The policy of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses has empowered the government to effectively nullify the constitutional right to a trial.” – George Will 

Right to Counsel & Public Defenders Overload

Fact: In Wisconsin, more than 11,000 poor people go to court without representation annually. Anyone who makes more than $3,000 per year is considered able to afford a lawyer.

Fact: In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the public defender’s office has two investigators for the 2,500+ felony cases assigned to the office annually.

Source: The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander


Fact: In St. Louis County, public defenders routinely handle more than 200 felony cases per year, including murder and rape cases. Because of the overload, about 4,000 juveniles are sentenced without representation annually.

Fact: At times, St. Louis County public defenders represent clients in 10 different cases simultaneously.

Source: The New York Times, Public Defenders, Bolstered by a Work Analysis and Rulings, Push Back Against a Tide of Cases