Thought Leader: Elizabeth Taxel, Staff Attorney at the Office of the Public Defender
Location: Dekalb County, Georgia
Photographer: Jenna Shea Photography
Designer: Monica Kraeger

ELIZABETH TEXEL SAYS: “Legally representing all people charged with criminal offenses who cannot afford an attorney supports their Human Dignity.”

Elizabeth Taxel became passionate about access to justice issues after working with Latino immigrants confronting numerous barriers to receiving needed legal assistance. This inspired her to go to law school.

As a staff attorney at the Public Defender’s Office, Elizabeth Taxel represents people charged with criminal offenses who cannot affordan attorney. While this right is embedded in The Constitution, poor people facing deportation, eviction, and a large amount of other civil needs, do not have this right.

There is extraordinary injustice within our judicial system. The US incarcerates more people per capita than any other country.  Of the people who are incarcerated, most are not dangerous, but have been disenfranchised and ripped away from their family and community. Without adequate legal assistance and well-funded defense systems, they remain incredibly vulnerable.

In Georgia, some positive steps were taken with the Criminal Justice Reform spearheaded by Gov. Deal. However, the frequency of arrests, rate of conviction, and long lasting impact of criminal prosecution remain hugely problematic – having a deleterious impact on the community.