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Lack of lawyers leaves Georgia teens fearing lifelong harm from minor cases

Hundreds of kids from poor families are pushed through the court system without legal counsel, according to The Guardian US.

The Southern Center for Human Rights found that in 2012 more than 680 kids went through the Cordele, Georgia circuit courts for juvenile offenses. And while a very small number had a private lawyer, only 52 had a public defender.

"That means that each year more than 600 kids under the age of 17 are effectively being thrown into the bearpit of the US criminal justice system and left to fend for themselves," The Guardian wrote.

The problem is so widespread that last year the American Bar Association passed a resolution denouncing the lack of a properly funded indigent defense service as a “national scandal”. The federal system of indigent defense is also creaking. Last August the US attorney general, Eric Holder, warned of a “state of crisis” in legal representation for poor people and said that budget cuts forced by Congress had “decimated public defenders nationwide”.

Read the story here.

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