If defendants’ legal rights are not extended to treat people equally, then accused people who are unable to afford legal services will continue to be discriminated against.
People who cannot afford bail and court fees will still receive additional punishment such as being sent to jail while people who can afford to pay fees will avoid punishment. In the last five years, 48 states have increased the amount of criminal and civil court fees. Many defendants now have to pay for legal services that should be free such as public defenders, supervision during probation, or electronic monitoring. Defendants even have to pay room, board, and cost of care in prisons. The trend of increasing court fees will continue to occur if defendants’ rights are not addressed and the court system are not properly funded. Increasing court fees will worsen the problem by forcing more people in jail for not being able to pay the court system.
Similarly, people who can afford attorneys will continue to receive much better protection than people who cannot afford attorneys and have to be appointed public defenders. According to the NLADA, people who cannot hire private lawyers are appointed public defenders that have excessive caseloads and have limited resources due to underfunding.
Discriminating against the poor in the criminal justice system will create a cycle that punishes people without money. If a poor person is accused of a crime, he or she will be more likely to go to prison because of a overworked public defender or being unable to pay court fees. This will lead to an increase in prison populations and make the criminal justice system more expensive for states, thus forcing them to further increase court fees.