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Legal Service
 

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…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 shovel more cases through the system and make more money.   The Initial defense sponsorship program is designed slow down the pipeline that is feeding our children to an unjust system.  With strong community support, we can begin providing legal services for each Pathways-To-Success Development Center  immediately.  This program will create a 24 hour hot line for members to speak with knowledgeable staff concerning legal emergencies.   


The program was designed to provide legal assistance for ex offenders in the beginning of the process.  Instead of “pleading out” to prison time, this program works with local agencies for legal options to incarceration.  (fines, enrollment in drug treatment program, etc). 


The initial legal defense program will also work to reduce the grip of the Prison Industry Complex.  A fast growing private prison industry that “contracts out” private prison labor to major corporations.  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 offences. 


At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that remove jobs from the private sector to avoid paying employment taxes, payrolls taxes, benefits and social security.  They mount their operations inside state prisons tax free.


They manipulate the criminal justice system by lobbing to pass laws that promote mass incarceration such as “three strikes legislation” and mandatory sentencing.  Laws which 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


To make a difference we must address the issue of lack of proper legal representation prior to incarceration and provide services such as housing and employment upon release.  More and more states are questioning the wisdom and financial burden of incarcerating hundreds of thousands of low level non violent offenders for minor drug offenses. 


The result of this drug policy is the release of over 500,000 ex offenders each year back into our communities.  A drug conviction disqualifies an individual from public housing. This additional barrier to recovery further traps ex offenders into a cycle of poverty, unemployment, substance abuse and eventually more crime.  


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. 


Public defenders across this country have become overwhelmed with case loads.  The problem is so severe that many convictions are now being overturned not because the accused are innocent but because the legal representation was 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 Bargains allow the public defender to move to the next case with minimal work involved.  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.

 

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