For the fifth speaker in our Myths of Public Safety: Pretrial speaker series we invited Aditi Goel, Senior Program Manager at the Sixth Amendment Center (6AC) to discuss 6AC’s research on access to counsel in the period immediately after someone is arrested and before their first court appearance. Research increasingly shows that even one day in jail can lead to a string of derailing life events. While our constitutional design includes a right to counsel in criminal cases, when does someone actually get to see a lawyer after they’ve been arrested? And would earlier appointment of counsel make us all more safe? We discussed 6AC’s work in multiple jurisdictions on how frequently people waive their right to counsel after arrest and before their first court appearance through various systemic pressures. On-the-ground realities suggest the notion of a right to counsel, a fundamental precept of our constitutional system, may itself be an ephemeral myth in practice in a substantial plurality of cases—including in jurisdictions with a reputation for protecting the rights of indigent and marginalized people.
Aditi Goel is the Senior Program Manager at the Sixth Amendment Center (6AC), which seeks to ensure that no person faces potential time in jail or prison without first having the aid of a lawyer with the time, ability and resources to present an effective defense, as required under the United States Constitution.
Prior to joining 6AC, Aditi was a public defender in Boston for eight years – five years at the Committee for Public Counsel Services where she represented indigent clients charged with serious felony and misdemeanor cases, and three years as a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute. In addition to working on 6AC’s evaluations, technical assistance, and reform efforts, Aditi manages 6AC’s Law Student Network. Aditi is a California transplant and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, but has adapted to life in Massachusetts.
Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, is the moderator of the Myths of Public Safety speaker series.
The Myths of Public Safety speaker series is organized by Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and Sandra Susan Smith, Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice; Faculty Director, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy; Professor of Sociology; and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.