Legal Aid Society


Tina Luongo: Public Defenders Are Facing a Funding Crisis

Tina Luongo, Chief Attorney for The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice recently sat down with the New York Law Journal to discuss their new role as Chair of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section.

In the wide-ranging conversation, Luongo warned of the funding and attrition crises faced by public defender organizations.

“I wouldn’t be a public defender if I didn’t mention what I think is a real crisis right now here in New York City and across the country, and that is the underfunding of public defense systems, both the state systems and the federal system,” they said.

“Here in New York attrition is three times higher than it had been in years past,” they continued. “The fact that people who are dedicating their careers to public service can’t make ends meet here in New York. That’s not just a public defender problem, it’s a DA problem.”

“The government and funders are really good at counting heads as opposed to looking at what a client needs, a holistic approach, and really paying very experienced public defenders, investigators and paralegals the salaries to keep them doing what they love to do and do best in New York,” they said.

Read Tina’s full conversation with The Journal here.