Monday, June 10, 2013

Gideonat50 Website launched

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) announced on June 6 the launch of the Gideonat50 website, a collaborative venture generously supported by the Ford Foundation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court decision in which the court unanimously agreed that all individuals must have a qualified defense attorney, regardless of income.

Thanks to the tireless work and dedication of public defenders, many individuals unable to afford counsel are zealously represented against immeasurable odds. Unfortunately, such representation is not always possible everywhere in the nation due to significant resource imbalances and systemic inequities. Chronic under-funding and overwhelming caseloads for public defenders are stretching the justice system to the breaking point. As a result, 50 years after the decision, the promise of Gideon goes largely unfulfilled.

Gideonat50 is an interactive and informative place for visitors to:
Learn about America's justice system crisis.
See a new interactive map prepared by NLADA that for the first time provides a detailed overview of the national landscape of public defense and state specific descriptions.
Sign up to get involved in the Gideonat50 campaign.

The site also features information about three powerful works of literature and film:

Gideon's Army, a Sundance award-winning documentary by director Dawn Porter that follows three young public defenders challenging a broken justice system.
Chasing Gideon, a book by veteran reporter Karen Houppert that movingly chronicles the stories of people in all parts of the country who have relied on Gideon's promise.
Defending Gideon, a short film produced by The Constitution Project and narrated by actor Martin Sheen that features interviews with the key players in the Gideon v. Wainwright case.

The site is available here.