With snapshots of Massachusetts and Mississippi, among other examples, this chapter continues to trace how the implementation of Gideon v. Wainwright fell short of expectations in local communities. In particular, it examines some of the efforts funded by the National Defender Project, an initiative of the Ford Foundation and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA). This initiative funded the establishment and expansion of public defender offices around the country. Yet many challenges remained. Criminal defendants themselves complained that public defenders did not sufficiently understand their circumstances—spurring new experiments like the “community defender,” a new model of public defender with stronger ties to the neighborhoods where many defendants lived. By the early 1970s, as indigent defense reformers continued to navigate these challenges, the government had declared “War on Crime” and criminal caseloads had begun to rise—early harbingers of the phenomenon later labelled mass incarceration. Over the course of the twentieth century, lawyers had coalesced in theory around the idea of the public defender as a means to guarantee equality in the criminal courts, but remained unsuccessful at fully implementing that idea around the country.
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