Usually my interest isn't piqued by headlines touting the most recent study of how our bigoted self-indulgent couch-potato middle-class society called America oppresses the poor, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised. This is not because there are not injustices and inquities in the land, some blame for which does result from a blindness brought on by our increasingly vulgar self-absorption. It is because such studies are usually nothing more than propaganda pieces -- mindlessly reported by the mainstream media as legitimate news -- to justify shoveling taxpayer funds to the group who "discovered" the problem in order to solve it.
But that's not always the case. Sometimes the grievance industry is onto a problem that does merit our attention. For example, the Grand Rapids Press reported on yesterday's front page: "Justice denied to poor, study says". To wit, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association examined the public defender system in ten Michigan counties with the endorsement of the state legislature. Their findings are available at the Michigan Bar Association's website, and they are not good. Excessive plea-bargaining, lack of preparation, shoddy to non-existent representation, conflicts of interests are rife among lawyers taking public defender cases on the taxpayer dime. We know from the Jack Crofoot incident (here and here) that it is not just another grievance-mongering fairy tale that rotten public defenders risk putting the innocent behind bars.
So, take a look at the NLADA study. Of course, these guys are a special interest group who believe that the solution lies in giving their members more power and money to liberate the poor and disadvantage from our oppression. However, the problem they report is real, and their identification of the routine ethical misconduct of many doing public defender work is a serious problem that is the responsibility of the legal profession and state oversight agencies to clean up -- not taxpayers forking over more dough. Check it out.