ABA report condemns indigent defense system

The American Bar Association today made available on the Web a new report that says the nation’s indigent defense systems are “mired in crisis.” The report, “Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice,” released today by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, finds that 40 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which established the constitutional right to counsel in state criminal proceedings, the American legal system still fails to protect the rights of the nation’s poorest defendants by not providing properly trained and prepared defense counsel. These failings largely stem from inadequate funding of indigent defense systems nationwide, and result in the risk of wrongful convictions, the report says.