You've heard it on a thousand television shows: the police arrest suspects and read them their rights. One of them is, "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." That's because, 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gideon vs. Wainwright that criminal defendants have the constitutional right to legal representation, whether they can afford it or not. It was a promise to provide equal rights in the judicial system and one, says attorney and public defender Robin Steinberg, that's far from being fulfilled.
Steinberg is the executive director of The Bronx Defenders, a Bronx-based non-profit organization redefining public defense by focusing on the underlying problems that drive people into the criminal justice system in the first place. They provide just about any kind of legal representation a client might need, and engage the community in ways they hope can bring about broader social change. Learn more about their approach -- and the need for it -- in our exclusive report below.