Caseloads crushing public defenders outside Pa.

  • Emily Previti

From The Context, PA Post’s weekday email newsletter:

I talked with my colleague Katie Meyer for her State of the State podcast about my congressional map analysis story that just dropped. If you want to go behind the scenes, check it out. The latest episode also gets into some of Gov. Tom Wolf’s priorities moving forward. -Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter

‘The numbers alone might seem to violate the Constitution’

  • The New York Times did a story on the National Association for Public Defense studies of public defender caseloads in Louisiana, Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Rhode Island. It’s a worthwhile read/look.

  • Keystone Crossroads did our own deep dive into Pennsylvania’s public defense system and revealed the effects of the state’s lack of oversight and funding for the system.

  • We found it difficult, however, to accurately evaluate caseloads due to vague, outdated standards for attorneys and inconsistent record-keeping practices among counties in Pennsylvania. You can listen here to learn more about that issue and others, including more on our reporting process and how we see the system evolving in the near future.

Best of the rest

Sarah Kovash / WESA

  • The Pittsburgh Water Sewer Authority is facing criminal charges for allegedly failing to inform residents when it replaced lead lines in 2016 and 2017. The agency could have to pay more than $2 million in fines if the state Attorney General’s office gets all 161 counts of Clean Water Act violations to stick. WESA’s Margaret Krauss and Sarah Kovash are covering the story.

  • Pennsylvanians could soon face a constitutional referendum on victims’ rights. The amendment cleared the Legislature last year and would have to do so again this year before getting onto the ballot in 2020. Opponents, meanwhile, say the change could violate the rights of defendants. More details are in this post.

  • Demand for electricity across the mid-Atlantic spiked last week as people cranked up their thermostats in response to dangerously frigid temperatures — but the demand didn’t actually hit a record. StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Amy Sisk explains here.

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