Monday, April 12, 2010

Hamilton County uses public defender’s money to help Cincinnati Zoo (UPDATE)

This blog post is dedicated to Derrick Jamison, who spent 20 years on "Deters" Death row for a crime that he did not commit.

I attended the HC Commissioner's meeting today. I appreciate the Commissioners (Pepper, Portune, and Hartmann) taking the time to address the issue after I spoke.  They provided me with additional facts about the funds that I wasn't aware of.  In the next couple of days I will update this post with additional facts.

Again, I thank the Commissioners  for addressing my questions.

Why did Hamilton County Commissioners put money allocated to indigent defense into general coffers to help other offices?

The mission of the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office according to their website:

To defend the life and liberty of our clients and to protect their statutory and constitutional rights, by providing zealous, effective, and ethical representation.

That's a powerful statement especially when one considers that if you are charged and subsequently convicted of a crime every aspect of your life is affected: your freedom, your ability to get a job and housing. It affects if you go to jail or prison, and for how long.

The reality is this: blacks are more likely to be arrested, less likely to be released on bail, less likely to see members of their own race in the courtroom and jury box and more likely to be the target of the death penalty. They are more likely to have need for a public defender. Repeat, more likely to have a need for a public defender.

Some people believe that court ordered attorneys or public defenders as they are best known, suck. Do they suck for the sake of sucking, or do they suck because they don't have proper resources to adequately represent their clients? Recent data supoorts the latter.

The Hamilton County Commissioners office put money sent from the state to help with indigent defense into a general fund to help all offices. This makes one wonder if the census money will ever reach the black community. Maybe one has nothing to do with the other, but certainly it's the reason that black folks are always leery to trust the status quo.

To the black community - when people in our community are locked up, overcharged, over prosecuted, over sentenced, less likely to have mitigating circumstances taken into consideration. less likely to be given alternative sentences, not provided with proper representation-- Such factors affects our ENTIRE community. Our communities look like shit. To quote from a recent article, "There is no longer a need for dire predictions, hand-wringing, or apprehension about losing a generation of black boys. It's too late, In education, employment, economics, incarceration..."

To blacks and other communities that don't want your tax dollars going to help the accused (and not yet convicted)  look at it this way, you can choose a fence or an ambulance (read the parable) pay for it on the front end or back end.

We urge the community to attend the Hamilton County Commissioner's meeting this Wednesday at 9:30 am Location 138 East Court St. room 603. Be prepared to express your concerns that the HCPD office does not have funds to operate the office according to constitutional standards.

Also, make phone calls to your local Congress people, to the current commissioner, and the ones running for office. Ask them why money sent from the state to be allocated to indigent defense, has gone elsewhere?

Please make your voice be heard.