Budget Crises on the Minds of Public Defenders
Going beyond incremental changes to create a real impact in the criminal justice system is the theme of the Fifth Annual Summit on Indigent Defense Improvement Feb. 13 at the Marriott Boston Copley Place.
However, given the spiraling national economy, such reform will be increasingly difficult. At least 41 states are projecting budget shortfalls for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. Any cuts in funding resulting from the tanking economy will further challenge public defense systems, which have been underfunded for years, even during periods of surplus.
“Indigent defense delivery systems have been particularly hard hit due to years of chronic under funding,” said Deborah Hankinson, chair, ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defense, which is presenting a roundtable at the event. “At this year’s summit, we will explore strategies to reduce the burden on delivery systems.”
Six sessions during the Indigent Defense Improvement Summit will look at several aspects of the criminal justice system.
Beginning with the morning’s first session on how prosecutors and defenders can work together to the day’s final session led by Harvard Professor Charles J. Ogletree discussing the importance of involving the business community, law firms and the public in juvenile justice reform, the day promises to shine a light on the challenges facing the criminal justice community during these trying economic times.