Maine is the only state that relies almost entirely on private attorneys to provide legal representation to people who cannot afford their own attorney. As a result, the state has violated the Sixth Amendment rights of people accused of a crime in Maine for decades. A person's wealth should never determine their freedom.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all people charged with a crime the right to effective assistance of counsel. Maine has failed to uphold that promise and remains the only state in the nation that relies almost entirely on private attorneys for this essential public service.
The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services has presented lawmakers with a plan to open brick-and-mortar public defender offices throughout Maine in the coming years by using existing funds in the budget. We are urging lawmakers to fund this proposal when they pass the budget.