Blacks, poor underrepresented in second-chance Travis County court program
AUSTIN, Texas —
Defendants who are black or unable to hire their own lawyers have been underrepresented in a Travis County district attorney's office program that gives select felony defendants a rare chance to escape their charges without a criminal record, according to an Austin American-Statesman analysis.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said she is concerned about the imbalance and hopes to further diversify participation in her pretrial diversion program, which she started in 2010, with more education for defense lawyers about it.
Lehmberg said she hopes to encourage defense lawyers to be on the lookout for clients who would qualify and succeed, especially African Americans.
But defense lawyers interviewed said they know about the program, and some believe that it's Lehmberg's rule that disqualifies anyone with a prior criminal record that has led to the dearth of participation by black defendants and people represented by court-appointed lawyers.
For more on this head to http://www.statesman.com/news/local/blacks-poor-underrepresented-in-second-chance-travis-county-2258084.html
Information from Austin American-Statesman