Thousands of people are wrongly convicted each year because of a malfunctioning legal system, reports the American Bar Association. "All too often,
defendants plead guilty, even if they are innocent, without really understanding their legal rights" states the study, scheduled for release Friday.
Lawyers in the South often "negotiate a plea agreement the first day they meet their clients." Elsewhere, indigent clients are jailed for months
without access to a lawyer or are improperly pressured by prosecutors "to accept plea deals without a lawyer present."
Thousands of suspects unable to afford lawyers are wrongly convicted each year because they are pressured to accept guilty pleas or have incompetent
attorneys, the American Bar Association says in a report.
The study by a committee of the nation's largest lawyers' group says that legal representation of indigents is in "a state of crisis." These
defendants are at constant risk of wrongful conviction and unjust punishment, including the death penalty, according to the study being released
"The fundamental right to a lawyer that Americans assume apply to everyone accused of criminal conduct effectively does not exist in practice for
countless people across the United States," the study states. "All too often, defendants plead guilty, even if they are innocent, without really
understanding their legal rights."
In the South, the report cited a problem of "meet 'em and plead 'em lawyers" where lawyers in states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and
Georgia often negotiate a plea agreement the first day they meet their clients.
In Texas, Rhode Island and elsewhere, legal experts reported incdances where indigent clients languished in jail for months without access to a lawyer
or were improperly urged by prosecutors to accept plea deals without a lawyer present.
More than 150 people who were convicted in 31 states and the District of Columbia served a total of 1,800 years in prison for crimes they did not
commit. All were exonerated due to DNA evidence.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Injustice is common and tragedy is not unusual. The system needs an overhaul and an infusion of money to fix it says the American Bar Association
(ABA). Unfortunately, there is no money. The US is carrying a national debt of $7.7 trillion dollars and daily interest payments top $2.2 billion.
All of the recommendations put forward by the ABA require special budget allocations.
It is interesting to note that the political will and budget were found to create the Anti-Class Action legislation and system to protect corporate
rights. One wonders if the same resources are in place to protect individual American's civil liberties.
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