A Struggling System May Face More Problems Under This Plan

Courtroom gavel
via RAF Mildenhall
William Anderson
February 5, 2020

Georgia’s questionable governor Brian Kemp wants to make some major cuts that will hurt Black people, especially poor ones. Not everyone can afford an attorney, and when they can’t, they use public defenders. But the governor intends to make this obstacle even harder.

Governor Kemp ain’t slick. He wants to “slash the funds available to state public defenders by more than $3 million—and to increase the funds available to prosecutors by about the same amount.” This means the people with fewer resources will have less and the system against them will have more.

Public defenders’ budgets are already stretched thin in states like Georgia, where they’re not prioritized. These cuts will make a bad problem even worse. Kemp is signaling a possible return to “tough-on-crime” policies that simply do not work.

As a matter of fact, what Kemp is proposing was the center of a legal battle over 10 years ago. Having people waste away in jail without representation, and overworking the few available public defenders left, is a mistake that’s already been made. Clearly Governor Kemp doesn’t care.

With racist jury selection, racist policing, and racist sentencing, it’s very clear that Black people have the odds stacked against us. The last thing we need is for Georgia or any state to cut funding for the limited resources we have - resources like public defenders.

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