Public Defenders Importance Pre-Trial

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Release Date: 
Friday, December 20, 2019

Lizzie Sluchak, the Community Partnership VISTA member in Baltimore, Maryland is developing partnerships with local nonprofits and community organizations to serve people pre-trial. Below, she explains why the work that public defenders and their partners for people who have been arrested.

“The work of the Office of the Public Defender is essential. The way the criminal justice system is currently set up creates a vortex where the most vulnerable members of our society are those ensnared it. In order to navigate this system effectively, one needs a good lawyer, for which the fee is often exorbitant. This is unattainable for the most vulnerable. Therefore the service of the Public Defender is undeniably crucial. Specifically the work that I am engaged in, that of pretrial, sets the stage for the rest of one's case and journey through the system. Within twenty four hours it will be decided, at least initially, if one will remain incarcerated pending trial or be released back into the community. The impact and consequences of any amount of incarceration is arguably inexplicable. Theses impacts and consequences then compound when one has yet to receive a trial and could spend time incarcerated just for the charges or case to be dismissed. This year, I am focused on creating community partnerships in order to increase the likelihood that our clients will be released back to the community. Remaining in the community allows one to continue employment, stay connected to family, get connected to necessary supports, better assist in preparation for their trial, and is correlated with more lenient sentencing if they are found guilty.”