Category Archives: book review

‘Chasing Gideon’: shocking failures of the justice system in defending the poor

From the Seattle Times, a review of Karen Houppert’s book:

In the abstract, “everybody knows” that low-income individuals charged with committing serious crimes rarely receive good representation because court-appointed lawyers (usually public defenders) are inexperienced, underpaid and overworked.

When the abstraction becomes reality involving flesh-and-blood male and female defendants with lots to lose, the shortcomings of the criminal justice system become shockingly clear.  Journalist Karen Houppert, in her investigative book “Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest for Poor People’s Justice,” replaces the abstraction with two true-crime sagas set in Washington State — Spokane County and Grant County, to be precise.