The justice gap — the challenge of providing legal services for poor people



    Fifty years ago this month, in the case Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that poor people charged with a felony were entitled to government-financed legal representation.  Over the years the law has expanded to include those accused of misdemeanors and juveniles charged with delinquency and currently there is a movement to include representation for civil cases as well.  The responsibility to provide lawyers for indigent clients falls mostly on the states where across the country funding is inadequate, the need is greatest (according to the New York Times, 80 percent of state criminal defendants cannot afford counsel), and there are not enough lawyers willing to take on cases.  In this hour of Radio Times, in commemoration of the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, we’ll look at the promises and legacy of this benchmark case and explore the gap between the legal needs of low income people and the systems available to help them.  Our guests are  attorneys MARC BOOKMAN, of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, CATHERINE CARR of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and JAMES FUNT of the law firm Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt, and Flores.

    Photo by Flickr user Joe Gratz

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