Public defenders are invaluable challengers of a system that seeks to confuse, demoralize and enact violence upon society’s most vulnerable people and communities.
Public defenders are connectors, preserving the strength of communities and linking the people they serve to the resources they need to move forward with their present and future intact. With each connection to opportunity, hope, and care, public defense advances safety, health, economic mobility, and greater equity.
Public defenders are problem-solvers, providing multi-dimensional versatility to the people they serve and to society inside and out of court. The problems created by arrest and prosecution are as complex and unique as the people defenders represent.
Public defenders are fighters for social and racial justice. Inside of court, defenders act as resistance against government power that routinely, repeatedly, and everyday disproportionately harms Black and brown communities while undermining health and safety.
Public defenders bear witness to daily injustices that few others see in ordinarily empty courtrooms. Defenders have the power – through litigation, through policy, through press and creative advocacy – to leverage their perspective and experience for systemic change.
A lack of resources and funding prevent public defenders from providing the kind of holistic, vigorous representation they are capable of providing and the Constitution demands.
Although well-resourced public defenders can do more to advance safety and community wellbeing than any other system player, defender services are funded at a fraction of what is given to prosecutors in almost every jurisdiction in the country, tipping the scales of justice.
A long history of oppressive laws make it almost impossible for public defenders to obtain fair and just outcomes in their cases.
Many defender offices serve at the whim of political leaders and are forced to make compromises in order to keep their positions and funding.