Tuesday, September 21, 2004

COLUMN -- All state agencies not created equal

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:25 PM |  

Pioneer Press
Jul. 29, 2004

Excerpt --

Public defenders are NOT equivalent to a bonding bill, a ballpark and other subjectively "crucial" state spending. Cutting public defenders is not simply another "draconian" cut, with "dire" consequences affecting our "most vulnerable" citizens. Adequately funding public defenders is not about saving the jobs of state employees, righteously protecting poor Minnesotans or redistributing tax dollars throughout the state.

The state criminal justice system is a constitutional function of government. Equality before the law is the heart of the social contract between citizens and government. Its preservation is a duty of government (not a source of revenue) and an obligation to its citizens. And the difference between discretionary government action — however well-intentioned — and government fulfilling its constitutional obligations is significant.

Appropriating human and economic resources for things government COULD do prevents government from focusing on the things that it SHOULD do — adequately funding public defenders being on the "should do" list.

Read the column . . . .