Defender Association Supports ACLU-PA’s Indigent Defense Lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA–The Defender Association of Philadelphia supports ACLU-PA’s lawsuit against Pennsylvania for inadequate state funding for indigent defense. In Gideon v Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled that every individual is entitled to legal counsel in court, regardless of ability to pay. But many public defender offices are so underfunded that they can’t provide proper legal representation. This isn’t just about money—it’s about justice and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, gets the constitutionally required effective representation.


We appreciate Governor Josh Shapiro’s leadership in adding a $7.5 million line item for public defense in the state budget. It’s a positive step, but public defender offices still rely almost entirely on county funding. This creates a system where the quality of defense varies widely depending on where you live, leading to unequal justice.


Underfunded public defender offices struggle with overwhelming caseloads and insufficient resources, making it nearly impossible to meet the constitutional mandate for effective counsel. This not only harms those accused of crimes but also erodes trust in our justice system. ACLU-PA’s lawsuit aims to change this by pushing for statewide reform and adequate funding for all public defender offices.


We urge Pennsylvania to act now and ensure that every public defender office in the Commonwealth has the resources needed to provide effective representation. We need a justice system that works for every Pennsylvania citizen.


# # #

Follow us: @PhillyDefenders