Ending Arkansas’ First Appearance Crisis

Ending Arkansas’ First Appearance Crisis

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Description

Arkansas law is clear: every arrested person has the right to an attorney’s help the first time they see a judge. But across the state, people often face a judge at first appearance without a lawyer by their side. Even worse, a shortage of attorneys means people sometimes wait months for a lawyer’s help. The Constitution promises that every person in jail will have access to the courts and to counsel. Yet far too often, Arkansas allows people to languish in jail alone, afraid, and undefended.

This policy brief outlines research-based solutions for Arkansas to honor the Constitution’s promises by guaranteeing counsel at first appearance, ensuring appointment of defense counsel within 72 hours of arrest, and adequately funding public defense. These reforms can end the first appearance crisis, reduce court backlogs, and ease jail overcrowding.

Publication Date

5-2024

Publisher

Southern Methodist University, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center

Disciplines

Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Law

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Ending Arkansas’ First Appearance Crisis

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