Gideon Alert: Alabama creates statewide indigent defense system

BY David Carroll on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:00 AM

On June 9, 2011, Alabama joined the majority of states in the country that have state-administered right to counsel systems. While Alabama already funds indigent defense at the state level, the legislation (SB 440) creates centralized oversight of right to counsel services, requires the promulgation of standards, and seeks to expand the number of staffed public defender offices. The bill is a compromise reach by a conference committee.  An earlier version of the bill was passed by the Senate (24-3) on May 25 and would have unified the state's divergent county-based right to counsel systems, but only a substitute bill passed in the House. The conference bill passed the Senate unanimously (32-0) and the House voted the measure through on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan basis (97-4-1). Governor Bentley is expected to sign the conference committee version of the bill into law, as he is largely viewed as the leader behind the movement to bring accountability to the delivery of right to counsel services.

A letter from David Carroll, director of research at NLADA, to Alabama Governor Bentley regarding proposed legislation to reform the state's right to counsel delivery system. Based largely on the need to adhere to national standards, the letter suggests many of the proposed changes within the bill would be solidified and improved upon by also establishing independence of the public defense function.

Author/Organization: David Carroll, NLADA
Publication Date: 05/09/2011

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AL Chief Justice echoes call for criminal justice reform

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 4:52 PM

On March 8, Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address, in which she urged the legislature to end the state's overreliance on incarceration of non-violent offenders. "[W]e must lock up violent and serious offenders for lengthy sentences so they cannot continue to harm innocent people.  However, where nonviolent offenders are concerned, there is an alternative to the costly cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending.  We need to be certain we are locking up those of whom we are afraid – not just those with whom we are mad."

Susan Wardell, JD, LCSW

Speaker's Last Name: 
Private Practice
Office: 404-797-1078

Areas of Practice:

Capital Cases; Post-Conviction Work


Federal and State Courts in Alabama and Georgia

Years in Practice:

Seventeen (50 Capital Cases; 150 Non-Capital Cases)

Gideon Alert: Good news round-up

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Gideon Alerts is committed to not only highlighting the ongoing problems in indigent defense, but also to reporting advances in the improvement of indigent defense systems.  It has been a busy and successful past few days for the right to counsel in America.

Gideon Alert: understanding Alabama's "perfect storm"

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

When elected judges have the authority to give out big payments for assigned cases without being fiscally responsible for doing so, a state like Alabama creates the “perfect storm” of characteristics that virtually guarantees ineffective assistance of counsel to the poor.  A great newspaper series from Mobile’s Lagniappe is starting to highlight these issues and