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"The Office of the Public Defender continues to stand with the Black and BIPOC community, in Montgomery County, throughout the Commonwealth, and across this nation.
"The groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon vs. Wainright ensured all people will be afforded counsel, regardless of status, race, or creed. This was not a showing of good faith on behalf of government, but a mechanism of change to ensure that justice could be achieved equitably, fairly, for all individuals accused of crimes. But the search for justice has remained that; an often fruitless and painful search that eludes many Black and minority communities across this nation.
"According to the latest data, there are 437,500 children in America’s foster care system, who face a disproportionate risk of being incarcerated. The problem is so severe that one quarter of foster care alumni will become involved with the criminal justice system within two years of leaving care. If Black children are around twice as likely to be placed in foster care as white children, then we can see the writing on the wall of how these needs are growing, are increasing intergenerational trauma, and creating a cycle of harm in the communities that need increased funding around social service, educational programs, and vocational programs and opportunities.
"Although the Chauvin trial and verdict provides a glimmer of hope that the system could provide justice to Black and Brown communities despite the accused being a member of law enforcement, we are reminded that the struggle for equity and justice continues. We witnessed events in Chicago and Columbus over the past few days involving policing and youth, and there have been others over the last several years too numerous to mention. These events starkly, and in such heartbreaking fashion, demonstrate the tragedies of using deadly force instead of other, non-lethal responses.
"We support increased police training around de-escalation, implicit bias, and mental health awareness; the need for criminal justice reform and accountability; and the increased use of mobile crisis units. We hear the voices of our clients, their families and our communities, and we are dedicated to standing with them as, together, we work for equity, inclusion, and justice.
"We reaffirm our promise to deliver holistic, person-centered representation both inside and outside the courtroom. It is our enduring commitment to seek justice at every stage of the legal process and beyond. It was said that every stand against injustice creates a ripple of hope for change. We take that stand and share the unmitigated belief that our ripple of hope will join with others so that we can all realize a world of freedom, justice, and equality."