Access to an attorney means little if they lack the time, resources, or skills to be an effective advocate. Thus, one of the areas CLRP focuses on is creating or improving indigent defense systems to ensure quality representation for all defendants, regardless of income or social status. Across the country, public defenders or assigned counsel are too often forced to juggle hundreds of cases at once, giving short shrift to investigation, case preparation, and legal research; they often meet their clients for the first time minutes before critical proceedings. Moreover, public defenders are frequently outgunned by prosecutors armed with greater resources, larger staffs, and a partnership with the local police department. Through litigation and advocacy, we work to ensure that states invest in statewide indigent defense systems that provide constitutionally effective representation to low-income defendants. The absence of strong, well-resourced indigent defense systems offends the Constitution, leads to deeply unfair results, and contributes to our overburdened and wasteful jail and prison systems.
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