- Thursday, 13 August 2015
More than 80% of defendants in New Orleans can’t afford a lawyer, and so a public defender represents them, their only ally in a long journey toward freedom or imprisonment. Yet while the office handles most cases that pass through the courthouses, it remains “the stepchild of the criminal justice system” in New Orleans, said Anthony Radosti, vice president of the city’s Metropolitan Crime Commission. “And it’s always been considered the stepchild.”
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans didn’t even have a full-time public defender’s office. As the city picked up the pieces the storm left behind, a group of dedicated reformers set about ensuring that the indigent would have full-time legal representation.
“The most substantial impact and consequence of Katrina,” criminal court judge Arthur Hunter told BuzzFeed News, was the creation, for the first time, of a full-time public defender’s office in New Orleans.
- Wednesday, 15 July 2015
OPD is facing a $1 million shortfall. The current budget crisis is brought about in part from underfunding and budget cuts by the state and in part from underfunding by the city in the form disparity with other criminal justice agents and the reliance on fines and fees.
But the budget crisis is brought about entirely as a result of an unstable, unreliable and inadequate user-pay regime of funding that makes it impossible to predict from year to year when the next extreme budget shortfall will occur. In the absence of sustainable funding by both the city and the state, we will continue to have a budget crisis every few years when funding by either entity inevitably falls short; the result of which are ultimately unhealthy for New Orleans' criminal justice system.
- Monday, 22 June 2015
New Orleans – Constitutionally-required legal representation is once again in jeopardy in New Orleans due to decreased revenue and budget shortfalls for the Orleans Public Defenders (OPD). Last week, Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton alerted criminal justice stakeholders that OPD was again short of necessary funding due to the continued decline of revenue both locally and at the state level.
- Monday, 01 June 2015
New Orleans, LA – Last week the MacArthur Foundation named New Orleans one of its 19 Safety and Justice Challenge sites and awarded the city a grant to reduce local jail population. Led by the Mayor’s office, the Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) will be a key partner in the project, along with the New Orleans City Council, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Judiciary, the New Orleans Police Department, the District Attorney, Baptist Community Ministries, and the Louisiana Institute for Public Health and Justice.