Posted 10 years ago on May 7, 2013, 8 a.m. EST by GirlFriday
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Jonathan Rapping, a longtime public defense attorney and the founder of Gideon's Promise, a training program for public defenders in the South, explains that this disparity exists in part because of the stigma attached to the clients public defenders take on. "There is a view that public defenders represent people who commit the most heinous crimes. There's a sense of, 'Why would I fund a lawyer to help get a rapist or a murderer out of prison?'" Considering that 80 percent of defendants can't afford lawyers, the reality is quite different. "The vast majority of people who public defenders represent are those we see every day," Rapping says. "Maybe they did something wrong. But it's something relatively minor. And now they're sitting in jail on a bond they can't make, they've lost their housing, their job. For these mistakes, families are torn apart and communities are ruined."
Another excellent article http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/public-defenders-gideon-supreme-court-charts