Target: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
Goal: Don’t let criminals charged with violent crimes be released without a trial.
In a shocking statement, Orleans Parish Judge Arthur Hunter Jr. recently ordered that seven men charged with violent crimes — including murder, rape, and armed robbery — be released because the state won’t provide them with a proper attorney. Louisiana has problems with funding public defense attorneys, making it difficult to provide one for every case, as per constitutional right. Demand that the state of Louisiana provide better funding for public defense attorneys so that these violent criminals do not get released.
Currently, Louisiana public defense attorneys’ offices are funded by fines and traffic tickets from local parishes. This is a very unreliable source for funds, depending on unpredictable behavior that the offices cannot control. With so little funds, there is not much room in the budget for competent attorneys. The Orleans Parish office only has ten attorneys capable of handling serious crimes. With so few attorneys, immense caseloads overwhelm them, causing them to refuse even serious cases.
These seven men have been sitting in jail for months, uncertain of when they will get representation. The judge issued the shocking statement in order to put pressure on legislators to take action. Make sure that these criminals don’t get released by demanding that the Louisiana state legislature uncouple funding for public defense attorneys from fines and traffic tickets.
Dear Governor Edwards,
For years the Louisiana state legislature has failed the justice system by not providing adequate funding for public defense attorneys. Now a judge is threatening to release seven criminals charged with violent crimes without a trial because they do not have a competent public defense attorney. Do not let this happen; please provide better, more reliable funding for public defense attorneys.
Right now, Louisiana funds its public defense attorneys through fines and traffic tickets. This is very unstable, depending on behaviors that they can not control. When there are not enough funds, offices cannot hire many competent attorneys, placing an overwhelming amount of work in the hands of a few attorneys. And when attorneys are overwhelmed, cases are refused. Even when they are accepted, it may take many months until a jailed person stands on trial.
People’s constitutional rights are being violated and their safety is in danger with the legislature’s inaction. Do not let these seven violent criminals be released without a trial; uncouple public defense attorneys’ funds from fines and traffic tickets.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: maveric2003