In a state with such a constitutionally-deficient public defender system, it is tempting to believe that the broken system in Utah, detailed in ACLU’s report “Failing Gideon,” is experiencing something different than other states.
How the Failing Public Defense System is Hurting Public Defenders
Tina Peng, a public defender in the Orleans Parish of Louisiana, recently wrote this moving piece for the Washington Post about what it is like to be a public defender trying to find justice for clients in the face of the constant nation-wide budget deficiencies: "I'm a Public Defender. It's Impossible For Me To Do a Good Job Representing My Clients."
Peng (pictured at right) details her frustration with constantly having to do more with less for her clients. In her time as a public defender, Peng has handled, yearly, twice the amount of cases recommended by the American Bar Association. She discusses the frustration of not being able to adequately provide clients with social work and welfare services. It is this same lack of funding and access to resources that leads to similarly overwhelmed public defenders – and disheartened clients – in Utah.
Read Peng’s personal account of what it means to be a public defender in an underfunded and unappreciated system – then take charge and get involved by visiting acluutah.org to learn more about the YES ON SIX campaign and discover what you can do to make a difference here in Utah.
It is up to us to take action in our communities by contacting our legislators and pressing for the state to take responsibility – through funding and oversight – for our failing public defender system.
Get involved with Utah’s YES ON SIX campaign by sharing your personal stories and experiences with the current failing public defender system with the ACLU of Utah. Without the support of the citizens, our efforts to achieve substantial change will be unsuccessful.
This blog post was written by Erica Janicki, Fall 2015 Intern for the ACLU of Utah.