In case everyone has missed it, there have been 2 criminal justice related series in 2 different newspapers that have been just outrageous in the manner in which they explore the criminal justice system.
The San Jose Mercury News has written one thoroghly exhaustive series about the criminal justice system in San Jose which excoriates just about everyone in the system for failings that have led to serious injustices.
The St. Petersburg (FL) Times has written a 3 part series that I'm far less fond of where they follow around a baby Public Defender as he starts his career in the office. I'm less fond of this one because the PD in question is hardly a stellar example of PDs that we hire, in my office, at least. This one looked to the PDs office as a last resort, and said in his interview that he wanted the job because the prosecutors weren't hiring. Some of his co-workers are serious prosecution tools, who make it their business to please prosecutors wherever possible (just like our clients accuse us). The word I've heard from a PD from a nearby Florida county, and who used to work in that office in Tampa, is that the head PD is a pretty pathetic PD, pays his lawyers very little, is always looking for new people because they burn people out so quickly, and generally don't have very high standards of representation. Evidently the top person has surrounded himself with many former prosecutors as his fellow supervisors (not exactly an office full of people dedicated to the "mission").
This is diametrically opposed to the bulk of the PDs that I know. In my area, PD turnover is very low, people stay on the job for decades because it is highly fulfilling, and the jobs are highly coveted, with hundreds of applicants per position. Also, we are paid the same as prosecutors.
These articles have received extensive attention on several of the other public defender blogs, only a few of which I have actually perused up to now, but you can clearly find more starting with these (2 of which - Blonde Justice & Skelly Wright's Arbitrary & Capricious - are my favorites). Read Skelly's take here, and Blonde's take here. Also check out Tom McKenna's blog, Seeking Justice, and his post here. Political blog Transparent Grid (who also appears to work in the criminal justice field, but I haven't read enough of his stuff to find out exactly how) also has a post about the series. Finally, group that I haven't yet given a huge shoutout to (note the yet), the PD investigator (they can make or break your case) is represented on PD Investigator blog with a great post here.
All of these sites, and others of course, are really burning up over these 2 news series. Go read the series, read the commentaries, comment back here and elsewhere. I'm curious about all different views that come back, from fellow PDs, but equally from law enforcement, prosecutors (like Patterico, where are you commenting on this stuff, or have you already and I just didn't notice it) and all other members of society. What do you all think about the actual construction of law enforcement now that you have some details. Are you satisfied? Do you want it done differently? Whaddya think?