This month marks 45 years since the passing of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who is remembered for promoting fairness in the justice system, including the Gideon v. Wainwright decision in 1963 requiring states to provide counsel for those who could not afford it. This decision bolstered the importance of effective counsel as part of our Sixth Amendment right to representation. Today, legal representation remains inadequate due to attorney shortages, a lack of funding, and no workload limits. The quality of public defense often suffers, forcing public defenders to decide between caseload efficiency and meaningful representation (see a recent blog post on this subject here).
On July 6, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and taken into federal custody on multiple sex trafficking charges. In some ways, the Epstein saga runs the risk of reinforcing dangerous stereotypes about human trafficking in the US: If we expect all trafficking victims to be blond haired, blue eyed girls under the age of 18, we will overlook the vast majority of survivors. Survivors of human trafficking (meaning both labor and sex trafficking) are migrant laborers, restaurant workers, and housekeepers. They are men, women, transgender, and gender non-conforming. They are all ages and all races. And their stories are complex.
The first drug court was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and was designed to tackle the cocaine epidemic that had overtaken the region. This first drug court provided an alternative response to mass incarceration and added a facet to American justice that hadn’t yet been seen. Miami-Dade’s model imparted the idea that offending rates could be reduced without the severe punishment of jail or prison. In addition, it emphasized the notion that treating the root causes of crime, including mental health and addiction issues, could not only achieve the same results as traditional justice, but could actually surpass them.