The job of a public defender is an extremely difficult one. They are underpaid and overworked. They often get asked how they can defend people who are accused of committing crimes. Some put all their time and efforts into getting to know their clients only to see them get shipped off to prison. I have wanted to be an attorney for a long time. I have much admiration for the people that can be successful public defenders. After watching the film Gideon’s Army, I was inspired to write this blog post on how we can improve the public defender system in the United States and make sure that every person has adequate representation in court if need be.
One major deterrent from people wanting to become public defenders is the low pay rates that they receive given the amount of work that they do. They serve hundreds of clients at a time and do not receive proper compensation for this. Frankly, we get what we pay for. The public defense industry may not always attract the top attorneys in the field. Men and women in the peak earning years of their lives may choose to practice other kinds of law at private firms in order to provide more for their families. Increasing payment of public defenders would give them more incentive to work harder for their clients, and will attract the best and brightest of attorneys. This change comes from the voters. We must vote to increase the salaries of government officials whenever possible in order to maintain that the most fit people are in charge.
We also must make sure that public defenders are adequately trained to represent their clients and manage the workload that comes with the job. Efficient public defenders allow the trial process to move faster, thus speeding up the court system as a whole (Fabelo, 2016). This would allow public defenders to manage larger course loads as the cases would come and go at a greater rate of speed. It would also allow the justice system to increase in efficiency as well and would allow it to provide help and rehabilitation to those in need. This point comes with the selectivity of the public defender system. We need attorneys that are not only good at what they do, but are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to serve their clients.
The public defender is a very necessary edition to the judicial system. It allows for people who are unable to afford legal representation to attain that. However, we must make sure that those that represent these people are doing what is necessary to make the case run smoothly. There are ways to improve the system so that the smartest attorneys are present and are able to work efficiently to make sure that cases come and go in a quick manner. Their payment must be increased in order to attract these kinds of people. Being a public defender is a very admirable profession. It is not something that should be taken lightly and we should take the steps we can to improve the system.
Fabelo, T. (n.d.). What Policymakers Need to Know to Improve the Public Defense System.
Retrieved February 21, 2017, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/190725.pdf