Statement on City Council Hearing Examining Public Defender Pay Parity in NYC

The Legal Aid Society issued the following statement today regarding the New York City Council’s oversight hearing examining the issue of public defender pay parity:

“Every day, our dedicated staff works tirelessly in courts and in communities to defend New York’s most vulnerable. However, for too long, City Hall and the NYS Office of Court Administration (OCA) have underappreciated and undervalued this zealous commitment by refusing to acknowledge the growing disparity in compensation between our staff, Corporation Counsel, and OCA court attorneys.

This inequity not only deprives our staff of a fair compensation, but sends a broader message that if you dedicate your life to social justice, racial equity, and representing historically disenfranchised communities of color, your contributions are worth less than the staff employed by the City of New York and others. The pay disparity also speaks volumes about how the system views our clients.

Establishing a task force is wrongheaded because immediate action is needed. Our attorneys and staff simply cannot afford to live in today’s New York, and the city continues to suffer as a result of this attrition. We need City Hall and others to right this ship now and pay our staff in the same manner that they pay theirs.”