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Whereas in 2013 there had been widespread celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, much has been written in subsequent years about the unhappy state of the quality of counsel provided to indigents. But it is not just defense counsel who fail to comply with all that we hope and expect would be done by those who are part of our criminal courts; prosecutorial misconduct, if not actually increasing, is becoming more visible. The judiciary chooses to focus on the rapid processing of cases, often ignoring the rights of those being prosecuted – rights the judges have sworn to protect.

But we must ask why has this country tolerated a criminal justice system which has been so dysfunctional? Why are many of the criminal courts in our urban centers an embarrassment to any of us who would want to see the individualized care and concern that our nation prides itself in maintaining and championing? Why is funding for our criminal courts – the public defenders, prosecutors, and the judiciary – so inadequate?

This Article offers an explanation: America tolerates unjust and often unconstitutional treatment of those accused of crime because so many of those accused are minorities.

Source Publication

14 U. Md. L.J. Race, Religion, Gender & Class 163