Saturday, September 10, 2016

On being a public defender in rural Louisiana

Here's a story in The Guardian today, about the sole public defender, Rhonda Covington, who serves  East and West Feliciana parishes in rural Louisiana.  Eli Hager reports:
At any given moment, she could be investigating cases, calling witnesses, scouring through evidence, taking photos at crime scenes (with her own camera), meeting with her clients’ families, writing motions, typing up pleadings, making appointments, answering the phones, answering the door, getting the mail at the post office, filling in timesheets, filing monthly reports, doing the accounting, paying the rent and utilities, cleaning the bathroom, dusting the furniture, sweeping and mopping the floors, taking out the trash, trimming the bushes, unclogging the plumbing, buying the toilet paper, or meeting with everyone arrested in a thousand-square-mile area just north of Baton Rouge, within 72 hours of their arrest.
East Feliciana Parish, population 20,267, with a poverty rate 20.4%, is 44% black.  West Feliciana Parish, population 15,625 with a poverty rate of 24%, is 45% black.  Both border the State of Mississippi and are part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area.

This story is well worth a read in its entirety.  My analysis of spatial inequality with regard to delivery of indigent defense, with a focus on nonmetropolitan places, is here.

1 comment:

Angela Wang said...

She is a superwoman, so there is nothing women cannot do, but I really love her.