John Oliver did it again! With more than 2.8 million views, John Oliver in his weekly “Last Week Tonight” analyzes the public defender system in the United States as only he can do it. He begins by quoting the 1963 decision of Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Court stated that “… any person … who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” Does this system works as intended?
He shares quite a few shocking facts and statistics:
“… anywhere from 60-90 percent of criminal defendants need publicly-funded attorneys, depending on the jurisdiction.” (Brennan Center for Justice, Apr. 9, 2013).
“… 40% of all county-based public defender offices had no investigators on staff.” (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
“… about 95 percent of criminal cases never make it to trial.”
He explains that
[t]he Miranda warning includes the right to a public defender. It doesn’t include the fact that public defenders are highly overworked and grossly underpaid.
New York, like most of the United States, continues to permit the use of bail bonds-persons to post collateral for the release of criminal defendants. The rest of the world either prohibits this practice or takes an extremely dim view of it. See, Adam Liptak,Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S., New York Times (Jan. 29, 2008).