Problems with the system & our role

According to Mr. Richard Bourke, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, detaining about 1 out of 100 people. In this state, no lawyer is supposed to handle more than 200 felony-murder cases, but the sad reality is that public defenders handle a thousand or more cases leaving these inmates without counsel for months. As we reviewed case histories, it was not uncommon to see a \"capias\" or warrant issued for inmates\' \"rearrest\", meaning that because they have no counsel to advise them when to appear, they miss their appearance in court. Although the professional code of responsibility makes no distinction between the counsel and advice that a lawyer should give to poor versus wealthy clients, it is painfully evident that these detainees are missing out.\r\n\r\nIn the Constitution, a person is supposed to appear before a judge within 48 hours, but Louisiana is overridding that restriction by making it 72 hours instead.\r\n\r\nThe court currently does not manage its own database; it relies on what information the sheriff\'s office has. What the lawyers are having us work on is synchronizing the information from the sheriff\'s office. After the hurriance, more than half the inmates escaped, so the attorneys want to know who is being locked up and on what charges are they being held. Because the court does not have a complete and accurate listing, it cannot do anything about those being held for misdemeanors beyond their statutorily defined period.\r\nWe are finding out the status of the prisoners. Sometimes it can be rather confusing to figure out when the defendant and/or their attorney appeared. As I was reviewing the profiles, it was alarming to see that many of the defendants are younger than me and have already served months or years in prison. It is highly unlikely that they will have normal lives if and when they are let out.\r\nA Tulane professor told us of how one defendant was due to be released, but a week later was not let out because the prison did not have a busload full of people to be released. Apparently, one person\'s freedom is not worth the gas...\r\n\r\nOriginally posted:\r\n



“Problems with the system & our role,” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed August 11, 2022,