Public defenders have heavy caseloads

by Peter Twitchell

“Sunday Morning,” with Jane Pauly on CBS featured a story on the Public Defender Agency and that hit really close to home for those of us that have been incarcerated one time or another.

By all accounts we are poor people in Southwestern Alaska, because our parents told us not to gather material goods, something that they learned after the missionaries arrived to Alaska.

I was told by mom when I was a teenager that it was “sin” to have a lot of material things, and money was source of evil. I was never told it was okay to have it, or how to invest it, and when I had money it was never saved for too long.

I don’t want to blame mom, because that is no excuse for going out and making a decent living, I’ve done fairly well financially, having worked for 50 years solid starting when I was 16.

Public Defenders represent the poor of which 80% of the inmate population have no resources of money. Inmates can’t pay bail, or hire a private attorney.

“Sunday Morning,” on CBS reported that Public Defenders are overwhelmed with their inmate caseloads, one Public Defender can have assigned up to 150 and up number of inmates to represent. This is not realistic and does inmates an injustice.

Every morning we Pledge Allegiance to the flag, it was pointed out that there is “no justice for all.” Simply put, inmates are incarcerated for longer periods of time, waiting for their trials.

The constitution may guarantee liberty and justice for all, but fail in quality of representation. We know that the majority of inmates plead “guilty” to crimes they may or may not be guilty off, because there is no funds or time to do thorough investigations.

No matter how dedicated a Public Defender, they can’t represent each inmate like a private attorney can, because Public Defenders are too busy with their caseloads to ethically handle them.

“Do the crime, do the time,” is a cliché that will exist as long as there are prisons.