Past and current attorneys of the New Orleans Public Defenders Office say innocent people have gone to jail because they lacked the time and resources to defend them properly, according to a CBS News report scheduled to be broadcast Sunday on 60 Minutes. The system is so overburdened that in 2016 New Orleans Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton began ordering his staff to refuse to take on clients facing the most serious felonies. He said 52 attorneys are responsible for 20,000 criminal cases a year.
“You can’t provide the kind of representation that the Constitution, our code of ethics and professional standards would have you provide,” says Bunton. He says the justice system in New Orleans has become a criminal processing system. He describes it as “a conveyor belt that starts when you are arrested.”