Bernie Sanders Is Right About Funding Public Defenders [OPINION]
The New York Times recently ran a story about the Democrats running for president and the subject of the criminal justice system.
I don't agree with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on much, but I do appreciate his unvarnished and unwavering approach to the issues. He is correct when he says there should be more funding for criminal defense attorneys who serve those unable to fund an attorney.
The individual is powerless when individuals operating as the government come to prosecute them. Even people of means will find their finances exhausted when they are the subject of criminal prosecution.
One of the cornerstones of the United States is the protection of the individual from the government. The Federalist Papers and the other debates on the ratification of the Constitution are clear about the rights of individuals and the role of the states in protecting individual citizens from the heavy hand of the government.
When a person is charged with a crime in the United States, they are innocent until proven guilty. Americans aren't required to prove they didn't do something wrong–in part because it is logically impossible in most situations–when the government arrests them.
Our justice system requires trained and experienced experts on both sides of the case. The average person doesn't have a legal defense fund set aside for the day they have to hire an attorney in a criminal case. The only way to protect the rights of the individual is with a fund to pay for a qualified defense attorney.
Bernie is typically over the top and wrong when he attacks the American criminal justice system on the campaign trail. However, he has a solid solution to the problems he sees, real and imagined, with our system. Qualified and compensated lawyers will help to level the playing field for individuals in the fight of their life with the all-powerful government.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.