Utah Public Defender System Fails to Protect Rights: ACLU


Utah's public defender system is failing to protect citizens' constitutional rights as Utah remains one of only two states that do not provide state funds or oversight for public defense services, says the American Civil Liberties Union. A new report, “Failing Gideon: Utah's Flawed County-by-County Public Defender System,” focuses on 9 counties, says the Salt Lake Tribune.

Prof. Emily Chiang of the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law said that, “Utah has really fallen behind the rest of the country in terms of providing for its citizens. The main takeaway message for me is across a variety of counties, there are certain consistent failures and a lot of that goes to the state's failure to supervise and provide any sort of guidance as to what [public defenders and the counties overseeing them] are supposed to be doing.” Only Utah and Pennsylvania do not provide state funds for public defenders. State legislators decided that each county must bear the financial and administrative responsibilities for providing public defense services. Counties in Utah on average spend $5.22 per capita on public defense services — 44 percent below the national average of $11.86 per capita, said the ACLU.

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