Oregon’s current justice system is rigged to perpetuate racial and economic inequality. Public defenders are overloaded with cases, so low-income people, especially those from communities of color, are entering the courtroom without adequate representation.
Inadequate representation disproportionately impacts folks of color. Native Americans and Black Oregonians are assigned court-appointed attorneys at higher rates than any other group. In Multnomah County, for every 1,000 Black people whose cases are prosecuted, 750 are assigned court-appointed attorneys. For every 1,000 Native American people whose cases are prosecuted, 842 are assigned court-appointed attorneys.5
Without an effective defense, Oregonians are more likely to be unfairly charged and convicted. Forward Together Action will work with the Fair Shot for All coalition to pass the Public Defense Reform Bill, which addresses structural issues that are a key driver of racial inequality in our criminal justice system.