It seems to me a measure of the quality of our society is how we treat men and women in jail.
I was in a courtroom a few weeks ago when a jailed defendant asked for a different court-appointed lawyer. The judge scolded him, calling him a whiner who is never satisfied.
The judge treated him disrespectfully, as if he were already found guilty -- and that’s how the public defender, who is young and inexperienced, had been treating him already. That’s why the defendant wanted a different lawyer. He didn’t get one.
This was a very small event. The defendant wasn’t dying for lack of medication. The defendant hadn’t been beaten by arresting officers.
But he had been waiting in jail twenty months for his trial and the charge was a sex offence -- which carries the “ick” factor for everybody. He was very scared that a jury was going to find him guilty if he didn’t mount a strong defense.