Skip to main content

First Appearance | March 2023

March 31, 2023

Gideon Turns 60

This year is the 60th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the Sixth Amendment right to appointed counsel applied to all indigent state defendants charged with a felony. A NCSL report examines access to counsel in misdemeanor cases and the structure of state public defense systems. Advocates and public defenders say there is still much to do to ensure access to independent legal representation.

A Summary of 2022 Reentry Legislation

Reentry programs and services aim to help people successfully rejoin society following a period of incarceration. Significant legislation in 2022 focused on automatic record clearing, funding reentry programming, employment readiness of offenders, program oversight and individuals’ ability to pay court fines and fees.

Family Friendly Courts

State courts hear 98% of all civil matters—equivalent to roughly 20 million cases per year. They address disputes over matters such as housing, finances or debts and family relationships. Their processes often are complex, time consuming and daunting to navigate, especially without legal counsel. A new NCSL brief provides an overview of opportunities for state lawmakers to improve the civil court process for families.

The Cache 

In the News 

  • NCSL data on fentanyl possession laws was cited in a new article on state legislative actions in response to rising overdose deaths. In addition to reviewing possession laws, states are also working to expand access to treatment. 
  • New research on jail populations, violent crime and the impacts of the pandemic shows that the uptick in violent crime is reflected across the country, in jurisdictions that have pursued reforms and in those that have maintained the status quo. St. Louis was just one of the jurisdictions where researchers reviewed the data. 
  • A new study found that one in nine arrests impacts individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. 
  • Opinion: Jail Before Trial Should be the Exception, not the Norm 
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.