Monday, October 18, 2010

Indigent Defense in Georgia: The Costs of Justice

A war is currently raging in the State of Georgia. No, I am not referring to a political or sporting contest. It is a battle over whether or not the State's General Assembly will adequately fund indigent criminal defense. Funding for indigent defense refers to paying for lawyers for those who cannot afford to retain their own criminal defense attorney. Sadly, in this state, our legislators have constantly fought against having to adequately fund this necessary program. As a result, our state's criminal justice system appears to be melting down.
For example, the Daily Report has recently profiled one murder case, currently pending in Fulton County, in which the defendant has sat and sat, in jail, without bond, waiting for trial, for five years! That's right: FIVE YEARS! And one of the primary reasons for this unconscionable delay is the fact that there are no funds to pay for lawyers to defend him!
In my opinion, delays like this are outrageous! As the old adage goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied!" Georgia citizens deserve better! Hopefully, in January, our General Assembly will step up to the plate and address this important funding issue! Let's stop the war and fix the problem!

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