Public Defenseless: Podcast with Keisha Hudson
"Today on the Public Defenseless Podcast I spoke with Keisha Hudson, Chief Defender of the Philadelphia Defender Association. Take a listen to this conversation to learn about the ins and outs of Pennsylvania Public Defense and what makes Philadelphia standout as an example of what public defense could be in the state.
Pennsylvania stands as the only state left that provides exactly $0 to support trial level representation for public defenders. Despite this, the state mandates that all counties operate a public defender office as their source of delivering public defender services to their communities. As is to be expected when the state kicks the funding mandates down to the county level, there is a staffing and funding crisis plaguing defenders from the rural Pennsylvania all the Keisha's office in Philadelphia. Few people understand the issue that funding/staffing shortages can create in Pennsylvania Defender Offices quite like Keisha, and it was eye opening to hear about her fight for funds in Montgomery County. I was struck by the detailed and calculated approach she took to community outreach to build the coalitions necessary to push politicians towards necessary policy reform. We briefly touch on how the conditions seen in places like Montgomery County contribute to the rise of horrible corruption cases like those seen in Luzerne County in the "Cash for Kids Scandal"
Lastly, she was able to pull on her experience in representing those on death row to paint a beautiful picture of the pressing necessity for empathy and mercy in our justice system. I always enjoy discussing the role and importance of story telling to show the humanity of those accused and sometimes convicted of crimes, but I also understand how difficult this project can be in certain cases. Ultimately with leaders like Keisha at the helm, I believe we can create a system of justice that recognizes the humanity and respects the rights of the accused while also caring for the healing of any potential victims of crimes. Empathy for one, does not exclude empathy for the other.
As always, you can check out this show and more on:
If you or someone you know hears about the show, and would like to come on and share your experience as a public defender, in criminal justice reform, or as a client of public defenders, please contact me via the website!