Poor People Lose: Gideon v. Wainwright is the wrong cure for the reality that the carceral system is designed to target poor people

Monday, March 20, 2023
  • The article argues that the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, which established the right to counsel for indigent defendants, is not enough to address the systemic issue of the carceral system targeting poor people. 
  • Butler cites data showing that poor people are more likely to be arrested, charged, and incarcerated for crimes than wealthier individuals, even when controlling for factors such as race and gender: “Today approximately 80 percent of people charged with crimes are poor.” 
  • The article suggests that the root cause of this issue is the criminalization of poverty, including policies such as cash bail and fines for low-level offenses, which disproportionately affect poor people who cannot afford to pay them. 
  • The author concludes by advocating for a broader approach to criminal justice reform that addresses the underlying causes of poverty and inequality, rather than simply providing legal representation to those caught up in the system.