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Broken Justice

In 1997, Ricky Kidd was sentenced to life without parole for a double homicide he says he didn’t commit. And, he argues, his court-appointed lawyer is the reason. In the U.S. justice system, everyone has the right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one. But what happens when your lawyer is overworked, underfunded and unable to do their job? From the PBS NewsHour, a look inside the crisis that is overwhelming Missouri’s public defender system and what it means for serving justice in America.

PBS NewsHour is supported by - https://www.pbs.org/newshour/about/funders

Bonus

Introducing America, Interrupted

Much of what we’ve heard about the coronavirus is from major cities like New York. But what’s happening to hospitals in rural America, where there are more high-risk patients, fewer resources and a smaller safety net — if there is…

Trailer

Broken Justice Trailer

In 1997, Ricky Kidd was sentenced to life without parole for a double homicide he says he didn’t commit. And he says his court-appointed lawyer is the reason. In the U.S. justice system, everyone has the right to an attorney,…

Episode 5

Episode 5: Where do we go from here?

After 23 years behind bars, and a crushing defeat in 2009, Ricky Kidd finally gets a new day in court. Plus, we take a look inside a new St. Louis County prosecutor’s campaign to uproot the process that fuels the…

Episode 4

Episode 4: Public defenders fight back

The most common tool used to attack problems in public defender systems is the class action lawsuit. But what if there’s a better strategy? Steve Hanlon, a longtime advocate for systemic legal reform, has a big idea about big data.

Episode 3

Episode 3: When things go wrong

The American justice system is based around the idea that you can get to the truth when two opposing sides make their cases in court. But what happens if your defense attorney is so overloaded they can’t handle the case…

Episode 2

Episode 2: How did we get here?

Americans didn’t always have the right to an attorney. It all started with a pool hall robbery in Florida, and an unlikely legal advocate: a poor drifter named Clarence Earl Gideon. Gideon brought the fight for free counsel to the…

Episode 1

Episode 1: Triage

Can an attorney handle more than 100 criminal cases at a time? That’s the reality for a public defender like Jeff Esparza, who represents defendants unable to afford their own lawyers in Kansas City. The public defender system in Missouri—and…

Epilogue

Epilogue: Life after life in prison

Ricky Kidd is finally free -- thanks to his pro bono legal team, led by law professor Sean O’Brien. In this bonus episode, Ricky and Sean tell us about adjusting to life after prison and we talk through some loose…