Pay disparity unfair
to public defenders
I was glad to see the article titled “Region’s top prosecutors collaborate on root causes of crime.” Addressing the root cause of crime is essential to lowering recidivism and to making Richmond a safer and healthier community. Prosecutors play an important role in this process, but so do the attorneys on the other side of the courtroom: public defenders. Public defenders have a unique insight into the causes of crime and often are the most active member of the criminal justice system, connecting clients to services, alternatives to incarceration as well as treatment. Unfortunately, Richmond public defenders are paid significantly less than their counterparts in the Richmond prosecutor’s office, on average 37% less. That is because the city of Richmond supplements the salaries of its prosecutors but not its public defenders. Certainly it cannot be a fair system when one side of the courtroom is provided more resources than the other side. Mayor Levar Stoney and the Richmond City Council have the ability to remedy this inequity, and if they are serious about reducing crime in the city of Richmond, they will.