Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gideon vs. Wainwright that criminal defendants have the constitutional right to legal representation, whether they can afford it or not. But today’s public defenders are overworked and underpaid, and the scales of justice still tilt heavily in favor of the wealthy.
An organization in Bronx, New York is trying to change that. The Bronx Defenders are redefining public defense with a holistic model that addresses the underlying problems driving people into the criminal justice system, providing both legal counsel and social services under one roof. It’s proven so successful that the Justice Department tasked them with teaching the model to public defenders in other cities.
This week on Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers explores judicial inequality and the faltering legacy of Gideon comprehensively.
Producer/editor: Lauren Feeney. Camera: Cameron Hickey