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Defense of Indigent:
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  A Drug Arrest Occurs In The U.S. Every 19.5 Minutes   1 Trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) Spent 45 Million ($45,000,000) Plus Arrested   There Are Over 2.2 Million People Currently Incarcerated In The United States, 900,000 Of Them Are African American   Since The Early 70's The Prison And Jail Population In The United States Has Increased At An Unprecedented Rate.   The More Than 500% Rise In The Number Of People Incarcerated In The Nation's Prisons and Jails Has Resulted In A Total Of 2.2 Million People Behind Bars.   The State Of California Has Been Ordered To Release Over 40,000 Prisoners   Because Of Inhumane Living Conditions Due To Prison Overcrowding   Low Level Non Violent Drug Offenders Make Up 60% Of Those Incarcerated   $60 Billion Taxpayer Dollars Spent Annually For Direct Incarceration Costs (Room & Board, Food, etc)   81 Billion Taxpayer Dollars Spent For Indirect Incarceration Costs (Foster Care, Welfare, Medicaid, etc)   Wall Street Investors Profit Millions Based On How Many Bodies Are Squeezed Into Prison Cells   During The 1990's The State Of Texas Built 1 University And 77 Prisons   Many Major American Corporations Use Contracted Prison Labor To Avoid Paying Taxes   It Costs Approximately $450,000 To Incarcerate One Drug Dealer Including Conviction plus Room & Board (Schaffer Library Of Drug Policy)   Between 1985 And 1995 Over 80% Of The Increase Of The Federal Prison Population Was Due To Drug Convictions   In The Last Decade The Punitive And Over Zealous Tools And The Approach Of The Modern Criminal Justice System Have Seeped Into Our Schools, Serving To Remove Our Children From Mainstream Educational Environments And Funnel Them Into A One Way Path Towards Prison   10.5 Million Americans Are Working Poor, Meaning That They Spent At Least Half The Year In The Labor Force But Their Incomes Were Still Below The Poverty Line   15 Percent Of Americans (One In Six) Fell Below The Official Poverty Line In 2010, Defined As A Family Of Four With Income Below $22,314   Children Who Grow Up In Poor Families Are More Likely To Continue The Cycle Of Poverty As Adults, Compared To Children From Upper-Income Families, Undermining The American Dream   High Rates Of Poverty Hurt Everyone In The United States Because It Strips Limited Resources From The Government That Could Be Invested In Other Areas To Promote Economic Growth   Child Poverty Alone Is Estimated To Cost The U.S. Economy More Than $500 Billion Annually In Lost Productivity, Increased Health Care Costs And Higher Criminal-Justice Expenditures   Poverty Dramatically Harms Long Term Human Capital Development, A Critical Component In Our Nation's Global Economic Competitiveness   Children Who Grow Up In Poverty Under Perform In School, Have Limited Access To Higher Education And Are Less Likely To Be Prepared For The High-Skilled Jobs Of The Future

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Gainful Employment

...with his or her public defender just before they go in front of the judge. Some public defenders are now "contracting out" cases in order to continue processing individuals generating profits for the courts and prisons alike.

The Initial Defense sponsorship program is designed to slow down the pipeline that is feeding individuals into a system with few ways out. Primary Group has developed the Pathways-To-Success Center to provide individuals arrested for infractions and related charges with legal assistance.

With strong community support, we can begin providing legal services for each Pathways-To-Success Development Center immediately. The Initial Defense program will create a 24-hour hot line for members to speak with knowledgeable staff concerning legal matters.

Fast Growing Industry

The initial legal defense program will also work to reduce the grip of the Prison Industry Complex.

The private prison industry "contracts out" private prison labor to major corporations. This is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Some inmates are paid as little as pennies on the dollar. An inmate is 8 times more likely to have his sentence extended in a private prison for a minor infraction than in state run facilities.

Private prisons lobby hard for longer sentences and tougher drug laws even for low-level infractions.



The Initial Defense program was designed to provide legal assistance for individuals charged with drug related crimes.

Instead of "pleading out" to prison time, this program works with local agencies for legal alternatives to incarceration. (i.e. fines, enrollment in drug treatment program, etc).

The Pathways-To-Success Development Centers will also be an alternative for sentencing for these individuals.

They can receive treatment, counseling, mentors, housing and employment all under 1 roof. With more effective legal representation, those charged with illegal possession of a small amount of drugs may not have to serve lengthy jail sentences. Instead they can be set on a path to a better future.

Prison Work Release

Owners and investors in the private prison industry help “tilt” the criminal justice system in their favor by lobbying to pass laws that promote mass incarceration such as "three strikes legislation"and mandatory sentencing. The Boggs act of 1953 proved these strategies did not work, however, this time, the motive was different.

These laws herd primarily poor and minority youth into the hands of the private prison enterprise to work under a system called "involuntary servitude" disguised as prison release work programs.

Questioning The Wisdom

To make a difference we must provide more effective legal representation prior to incarceration and provide services such as housing and employment upon release.

Increasingly, states are questioning the wisdom and financial burden of incarcerating hundreds of thousands of low-level, non-violent formerly incarcerated individuals for minor drug infractions and related crimes.

Lack Of Incentive

This arrangement encourages public defenders to accept as many clients as possible and to spend as little time as possible on their cases.

There is no incentive for high quality defense work and the defendant suffers. The goal of the Initial Defense sponsorship program is to handle as many as 90,000 felony cases per year and up to 180,000 misdemeanors per year.

More Barriers

The result of this drug policy is the release of over 500,000 low-level, non-violent formerly incarcerated individuals each year back into the community. A drug conviction disqualifies an individual for public housing.

A drug conviction also disqualifies individuals from obtaining a business license in many cases or government funded education courses.

This additional barrier to recovery further traps low-level, non-violent formerly incarcerated individuals into a cycle of deep poverty, unemployment, substance abuse and eventually more crime.

Public Defenders - Overwhelmed

Public defenders across this country are overwhelmed with burgeoning case-loads. The problem is so severe that some convictions have been overturned not because the accused are innocent, but because the legal representation was so inadequate.

In many cases Public defenders are paid on contract and volume which means they are paid the same regardless of whether the case goes to trial or not.

Going to trial only means more work for the public defender. The quickest route to resolution is to plea bargain. Plea-bargaining allows the public defender to move to the next case with minimal work involved.

Prominent lawyers assigned case after layoffs
True Believers in Justice

Public Defender Case Load Guidelines

Recommendations by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association states, that no more than 400 misdemeanor cases a year, 150 felony or 200 juvenile cases be opened per year per public defender. Most are operating at 2-3 times that limit. Public defenders are so overwhelmed, a defendant may get 15 minutes with them just before appearing in court.

a. Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that everyone who is charged with a serious crime has the right to an attorney. In Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Hugo Black observed for the court that "in our adversary system, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured of a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him." As a prosecutor, as a judge and as our nation's attorney general, I have seen this reality firsthand.

b. Despite the promise of the court's ruling in Gideon, however, the U.S. indigent defense systems — which provide representation to those who cannot afford it — are in financial crisis, plagued by crushing caseloads and insufficient resources. And this year's forced budget reductions, due largely to sequestration, are further undermining this critical work.

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