The 6th Amendment guarantees legal council for all. Everyone knows the old Miranda speech "If you can't afford a lawyer one will be appointed to you". But law is not cheap and never has their been a funded, comprehensive, nation-wide, legal aid program. States are responsible and pretty much left on their own to find the ways and means to fund justice.
Today in my local paper is an article about the state finally paying the lawyers the money they were owed, however scantily ($50.00/hr). There are ever more cases of greater complexity and state budgets are forever falling short.
What are the consequences of failing to provide adequate and effective legal council to those who can't buy it themselves? Do we ultimately pay the price in over-crowded prisons, do we strengthen the cycle of poverty rather than disrupt it? Are we ignoring the prevention and failing to provide a cure?
Here are a couple quotes from the NPR ariticle:
If you're handling 400 indigent cases a year, there is simply no way that you can adequately investigate and prepare all of them," Moran says. "In fact, there's no way you can adequately investigate and prepare any of them if you have that many cases
Court-appointed lawyers in Michigan, Steinberg says, "have to encourage their clients to plead guilty and keep the docket moving in order to generate the volume that they can make a living. So the incentive is to get your client to plead guilty as quickly as possible doing the least amount of work as possible."