In short, the goal of the Public Defender’s office is to provide people accused of crimes with legal assistance in the event they are unable to afford to hire their own attorney. However, in doing so, they work to promote social justice in many different ways. While it may not always feel as though the legal issues being dealt with on a day to day basis relate directly to solving injustices, the work performed by the lawyers, social workers, and support staff as a whole assists clients by helping them connect with the resources they need to succeed. By doing so, this can help clients to avoid getting caught up in future situations that could potentially expose them to criminal charges.
There are many clients that will come into our office arrested for petty crimes that often relate to drugs, or theft in order to get money for drugs. By having these clients talk to the social workers in our office and by connecting them with outside programs and resources in the community, we work to help break cycles of addiction that lead many people to get arrested and accumulate lengthy criminal records. This works additionally for those who suffer from major mental health problems. These two issues are much of the reason why many of our clients get arrested in the first place. Living in poverty without regular mental health or drug treatment exposes many of our clients to unfortunate and dangerous situations that can put their lives in jeopardy. Many of which could have initially been avoided with proper treatment.
In this office, many see that progress for a client is not something that is typical witnessed first hand, it is often shown by not seeing them in our office again. It is hoped that by connecting people with these services, they will take advantage of newfound supports and will not end up arrested again. Our office helps clients to take baby steps towards a larger goal of overall success and stability in their lives. Many have children they have to take care of and need the ability to support them. By helping people begin to get on track by connecting them with programs and counselors, they eventually can take bigger steps towards their goals of getting a job, getting an apartment, and many others.