Once again, whether it’s time to get the best outcomes for our clients or show support for our attorneys and staff, our community partners always come through! A HUGE “thank you” to the 29 community organizations who signed a letter to the Mayor calling for increased funding for the Defender Association.
Read the full letter below, or download it here
Dear Mayor Kenney,
We write today on behalf of the City of Philadelphia to urge you to support the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s request for an additional $5.8 million more than proposed by the Mayor’s budget. Our community counts on our Public Defenders to provide high-quality legal services to our family, friends, and neighbors when they are facing charges. We have seen that when the weight of the system is against you, a good defense can make all the difference, and that everyone deserves a high-quality defense when their freedom and reputation is at stake. And in the poorest big city in America, we need to know that the City understands the value of public defense and can ensure that the Defender will be there when we need them.
With so many other budget priorities, it is easy to overlook our public defenders. But we believe in the long run that is a mistake. As interested members of the community, we see a well-resourced Defender office as a long-term investment in public safety. The Defender needs to be adequately funded so it can recruit and retain a diverse and talented pool of attorneys, hire the best experts and investigate cases properly so that the justice system gets things right the first time. This is the only way people in the community will trust the system and its outcomes and not feel like it is an assembly line in the courthouse.
More importantly, the Defenders need the resources to connect people with the social supports they need to succeed so that our jails can be used as a last resort and so those who do return to the community can do so safely. They also need resources to represent their young clients, children involved in either abuse or neglect or delinquency proceedings, and make sure our young people have a chance to follow their ambitions and receive the support they need in their home communities.
We also count on the Defender to continue to give high-quality representation for people seeking early termination from probation, early release from dangerous conditions in our county jail, and appropriate diversionary opportunities so young people can avoid the lifetime impact of a criminal conviction.
It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the public defender’s office has the resources it needs to do the job well which is why we are writing to let you know we support the Defender’s request for an additional $5.8 million. We know they have been working to develop meaningful connections in neighborhoods throughout the city, to build trust with clients and their families, and to empower communities to be involved in improving client case outcomes. And we stand with them in their request that the City fund the Philadelphia Defenders.
Abolitionist Law Center
Amistad Law Project
Best Outcomes Participatory Defense Hub
Coalition for Parole Justice
Dignity and Power Now
Frontline Dads Inc.
Germantown Participatory Defense Hub
Human Rights Coalition
Kings Saving Kings & Queens Inc
Mothers In Charge
New Leash on Life USA
North Philly Participatory Defense Hub
People’s Paper Co-op
Philadelphia Bail Fund
Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
Philadelphia Reentry Think Tank
POWER Live Free
Sankofa Healing Studio
South Philly Participatory Defense
The Decarceration Team of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
The Village of Arts & Humanities
West Philly Participatory Defense Hub
Why Not Prosper, Inc.
X-Offenders for Community Empowerment
Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP)