The indigent defense delivery system in the United States is in a state of crisis. Public defenders routinely handle well over 1,000 cases a year, more than three times the number of cases that the American Bar Association says one attorney can handle effectively. As a result, many defendants sit in jail for months before even speaking to their court-appointed lawyers. And when defendants do meet their attorneys, they are often disappointed to learn that these lawyers are too overwhelmed to provide adequate representation. With public defenders or assigned counsel representing more than 80% of criminal defendants nationwide, the indigent defense crisis is a problem that our criminal justice system can no longer afford to ignore.
Primus, Eve Brensike. "Litigation Strategies for Dealing with the Indigent Defense Crisis." Am. Constitution Soc'y. Issue Brief September (2010): 1-19.