Public Defenders And The Legacy Of Gideon Vs. Wainwright

Public Defenders And The Legacy Of Gideon Vs. Wainwright

Fifty years after the Supreme Court case that guaranteed criminal defendants a lawyer even if they can't pay, Kojo examines the crushing caseloads facing most public defenders today and the impact on the justice system.

It's been half a century since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that criminal defendants must be given a lawyer, even if they can't afford to pay. Today, about 80 percent of criminal defendants rely on a public defender. But many public defenders face crushing caseloads that make it hard to give adequate time and energy to each client. Kojo explores representation for indigent defendants and asks what overworked public defenders mean for the criminal justice system.


Jonathan Rapping

President and Founder, Gideon's Promise; Professor, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School; Former Staff Attorney and Training Director, D.C. Public Defender Service

Karen Houppert

Journalist; Lecturer, Morgan State University; Author, "Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest for Poor People's Justice" (The New Press, 2013)

AJ Kramer

Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia

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The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.