In today’s National Law Journal, Sherrilyn Ifill, along with Stephen Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights and Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project, jointly pen an op-ed on the shortage of indigent defense representation.
“Lawyers, Not Another Commission, for the Poor” argues that now is the time for action, not another study by a commission analyzing the deficiencies in providing lawyers to indigent criminal defendants and proposing solutions.
“There is simply no longer any debate about the problem, the causes or the solutions. Another commission to study again what we already know is no more needed than a commission to study whether the use of tobacco products has an impact on health. It is time to stop studying the problems and to do something about them.
Over the years, professional associations, courts, public defender commissions and organizations have issued detailed standards, guidelines and “best practices” on every aspect of providing lawyers for poor people accused of crimes. Nothing will be achieved by a new commission recompiling, reorganizing and reissuing yet more standards and guidelines. What is needed today is to put the existing guidelines into practice, state by state, county by county and municipality by municipality.”
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