March 18, 2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case. This seminal Supreme Court decision ruled that the accused have right to counsel in all criminal cases if they cannot afford one, even on the state level. We asked partner organizations and those on social media to share with us how this decision has shaped the state of public defense 55 years later using the hashtag #GideonAt55.
Compiled here are some of the most moving or informative posts shared during this important month. These posts not only remind us to think back to the important day in 1963 when the right to counsel was assured for millions of Americans but to think and act in ways that make Gideon’s promise a reality.
Continue reading “5 Striking Tweets that Honor #GideonAt55”
This March, the Right to Counsel National Campaign (R2C) has embraced the 55th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright as an opportunity to reflect on what quality public defense looks like, the impact it has on individual clients’ lives, and the work that needs to be done to fully realize the intent of the Gideon decision.
Continue reading “Gideon: Looking Back, Leaping Forward”
“No touching!” the corrections officer yelled at me, pointing at my outstretched hand as I sat down in the attorney interview room across from my client Raphael. “Oh right, sorry!” I snatched my hand away quickly. In my first year as a public defender, I had a hard time “un-learning” my natural instincts about how human interaction should work. On this occasion, I was meeting with Raphael at Rikers Island to interview him for a letter I was writing to the judge about why she should give Raphael a shorter jail sentence for his heroin possession case than the DA was recommending. Continue reading “Revolutionary Empathy”
Today, March 18, 2018, is the 55th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright. The struggle of Clarence Earl Gideon to obtain defense counsel, and his fight to affirm his right to counsel regardless of means, cemented the Sixth Amendment right that if a person cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided. Public defense access has improved since the Gideon decision, but the public defense system struggles from chronic underfunding, inconsistent standards for public defense eligibility and quality depending on the state, and a lack of support for training and resources for public defenders.
Continue reading “Honoring #GideonAt55”
In tribal communities throughout the United States, alcohol-related crime and death are immense concerns for citizens. While exploring ideas on how to decrease the high rates of alcohol and substance use by Native American populations for National Drug Court Resource Center, I came across several programs that the Navajo Nation is implementing to combat drug and alcohol problems. In an effort to learn about these initiatives, I got in touch with and interviewed a member of the Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation.
Continue reading “A Journey to Wellness”
For young kids, learning about careers usually means learning about teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers, etc. So, a couple of years ago, when my then six-year-old son asked me to describe what I do, I really had to think about it. As well as being the project director of the National Drug Court Resource Center, my work at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) encompasses other areas of the criminal justice policy field.
This is how I answered him:
Continue reading “Explaining Criminal Justice Reform to a Six-Year Old”
I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership over the past year—are leaders born or made? What’s the best way to grow as a leader? How can I inspire my team and guide JPO to new and greater successes? With it being Women’s History Month, my thoughts have also turned to what it means to me as a woman to be a leader and how can I best use the lessons I’ve learned as a woman working in male-dominated fields to mentor the women on my staff.
Continue reading “Lead Like A Woman”