Kamala Harris’ bill seeks to ease burden on public defenders
By JUANA SUMMERS Associated Press
May 08, 2019 02:01 AM
In this May 6, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a town hall for the American Federation of Teachers in Detroit. Harris is introducing legislation to ease the burden on public defenders through a $250 million grant program.
Democratic Sen. Kamala (KAH’-mah-lah) Harris of California is introducing legislation to ease the burden on public defenders through a $250 million grant program.
The legislation is being introduced Wednesday and is Harris’ latest foray into criminal justice reform. The former prosecutor and 2020 presidential candidate has said she wants to make the system more just.
Harris’ Senate office says the proposal would create a grant program that would establish workload limits for full time public defenders, create pay parity between public defenders and prosecutors within five years and collect annual data on public defender workloads. The legislation also would authorize $5 million for government organizations and nonprofits to provide training for public defenders.
Harris says public defenders are often overworked and lack resources and the defendants are the ones who suffer.