Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel

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The National Right to Counsel Committee was created in 2004 to examine the ability of the American justice system to provide adequate counsel to individuals in criminal and juvenile delinquency cases who cannot afford lawyers. Decades after the United States Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright and other landmark Supreme Court decisions, which recognized the right to lawyers for those who cannot afford them, there was disturbing evidence that states and localities were not providing competent counsel, despite the constitutional requirement that they do so.

The committee's charge was to assess the extent of the problem, the various ways that states and localities provide legal representation to those who cannot hire their own lawyers, and to formulate recommendations about how to improve systems of indigent defense to ensure fairness for all Americans. The result is Justice Denied: America’s Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.

Produced by The Constitution Project and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the report was supported by the Open Society Institute Criminal Justice Fund and the Wallace Global Fund.