Newspapers Across Michigan Call for Urgent Reform

Editorial support for public defense reform from major newspapers across Michigan began arriving immediately after the Campaign for Justice released the new report and case studies—and they had a lot to say:

Detroit Free Press: Michigan Must Stem the Growing Costs of Cut-Rate Justice

Fixing the system will require adequate resources and shifting public defense spending from local governments to the state, while enforcing statewide standards for indigent defense. Access to justice should not depend on which state -- or county -- a defendant lives in. With appellate courts practically rubber-stamping criminal convictions, it's even more important to assure just verdicts at the trial level.
It's time for the governor and legislators to meet their responsibility to ensure constitutional standards for indigent defendants.

Grand Rapids Press: Why Michigan's public defender system needs reform

The costs for these shortcomings are many. Defendants endure a basic injustice because their constitutional right to effective representation is compromised. Taxpayers pay to incarcerate wrongly convicted people and fund the appeals that inevitably follow. The state is spending an estimated $50 million annually to house wrongly convicted people, estimates the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.
In addition, wrongful convictions leave the real perpetrators out on the street. In some instances, those individuals have gone on to commit other crimes and victimize other people.
Michigan should have a state-wide defender system that brings consistency and quality to representation of poor defendants. Legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder should fix this problem and create an office within state government that will perform this important function. This report is further compelling evidence that the system is broken.

Detroit News: Defend the poor, strengthen legal aid system

Poor people often get poor legal representation when they're accused of crimes in Michigan. A stronger effort to solve this problem is overdue. It must include steps by local leaders to make sure court-appointed defenders' legal skills match the seriousness of the cases they're assigned, stronger state oversight and a determination to set aside more money for representing indigent defendants.

More news coverage of the report release can be viewed on the newsreel located on our website (

News and Notes

We would like to welcome the newest member of the Campaign for Justice coalition, the Saginaw County Bar Association! Thank you for your support for public defense reform.

The Campaign for Justice has a new Detroit address: P.O. Box 32776, Detroit, MI 48232. Our Lansing office address remains the same: 403 Seymour Ave., Suite 201, Lansing, MI 48933. We would love to hear from you!