Implicit Racial Bias and Public Defenders: Assessing the Intersection of Implicit Bias with Limited Time and Resources
Public defenders play a crucial role in preserving justice for all Americans, not just the ones that can afford to hire private counsel. Although many public defenders enter their careers with honest and honorable intentions, implicit racial biases that remain undetected in addition to enormous pressures created by unmanageable caseloads and lacking resources can disadvantage their clients. First this paper will examine the reality of implicit racial bias, and it's pervasive impacts both in general society and throughout the justice system. However unintentional the bias may be, it still is a dangerous weapon and needs to be consciously assessed and addressed. This project will then assess the enormous strain the public defender system is under in America. Although criminal defendants in the U.S. are afforded counsel if they cannot pay for one, this right will do little to serve them if their public defender is so overworked exhausted they cannot provide that defendant with an adequate defense. However unintentional the bias may be, it still is a dangerous weapon and needs to be consciously assessed and addressed. Third, this paper will examine how the lack of time and resources granted to American public defenders paired with those attorney’s implicit biases they carry can disparage their client in ways even they are not aware of. In conclusion, this paper will suggest ways and resources to mitigate the effects of implicit racial bias so that incoming and experienced public defenders alike can be not only aware of the harmful biases they operate under, but so that they can work to unlearn those biases and provide their clients with a more robust defense even despite their expansive caseloads.