Oregon's Public Defender Crisis Puts HUNDREDS Of Criminals Back On The Street

Written By BlabberBuzz | Monday, 20 March 2023 14:10
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Oregon has been facing a massive shortage of public defenders.

Because there aren’t enough lawyers to pick up the cases, many are getting dropped. This is releasing hundreds of criminals that may be guilty back to the public. That is a dangerous response to the situation.

Fox News reports, “‘That is a terrible result for public safety and victims,’ Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton told Fox News. ‘Victims have a right to be safe and to have their case prosecuted. They have a right to have their day in court, just like a defendant has a right to have their day in court.’”

Cases have been sitting idle for months because there need to be more public defenders in the state. According to data from the Oregon Judicial Department, there are around 800 people that are still waiting for a public defender. Only 76 of those people are currently behind bars.

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Those cases don’t include the ones that have been dismissed. District Attorney Miek Schmidt admits that he has dismissed around 300 cases because of the lawyer shortage. He further acknowledges that it’s dangerous.

The cases that are being dismissed aren’t just misdemeanor cases. In some situations, they are violent felonies. According to Fox, “Charges dismissed last week in Multnomah County included felony theft and burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, gun charges, reckless driving, and fleeing from police, according to the DA’s office. Some violent crimes have also been dismissed, frustrating victims, including a man who was pepper sprayed while driving a bus.”

Reasons for the public defender crisis include the situation being improperly managed and under compensation. Public defenders often make less than prosecutors and far less than lawyers who work for practice. When lawyers have the opportunity to do something else that earns them more money, they are less likely to take a job as a public defender.