Penology: Gideon's Ironic Impact

In 1963, many Florida lawmen cofidently predicted that a crime wave was sure to follow Indigent Clarence Gideon's famous victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, which earned for all American indigents the right to free trial counsel in felony cases. The decision applied retroactively to convicts who had been tried without lawyers, and, just as the lawmen expected, by 1965 Gideon v. Wainwright had freed more than 1,000 Florida prisoners. But predictions of a resultant crime wave, says the Florida Division of Corrections, have turned out to be all wrong.

Among Gideon-released prisoners, the rate of recidivism (return to crimes)...

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