NLADA Applauds House Introduction of the Equal Defense Act

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Release Date: 
Friday, June 2, 2023

Washington, D.C. (June 2, 2023) – National Legal Aid & Defender Association President & CEO April Frazier Camara released the following statement in response to the recent introduction of the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal (EQUAL) Defense Act, which if passed, would establish federal grant funding to close the gap in investments for public defense. The bill was introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX), and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR):

It is a fundamental American right to have access to an attorney in a criminal legal case even if you are unable to pay. We know that most criminal legal cases are represented by a public defender or court-appointed counsel. However, excessive workloads and inadequate resources for recruitment and staff retention can often severely limit the quality and availability of legal counsel. 

We applaud the introduction of the EQUAL Defense Act which will provide the urgently needed investment in public defense. It will help prevent wrongful convictions and other unjust case outcomes, reduce the cost of incarceration, and strengthen our communities by helping people avoid unnecessary collateral consequences that create barriers to employment and education.

For more information about the EQUAL Defense Act or to interview an expert, please reach out to Rabiah Alicia Burks, Vice President of Communications and Team Building, by email at [email protected].


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state, and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training, and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.