GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. June 24, 2014—Dr. David Schuringa, president of Crossroad Bible Institute, was recently appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The commission, created by House Bill 4529, seeks to improve the quality of free public defense for residents who cannot afford private counsel.
Michigan’s indigent defense system ranks as the seventh worst in the nation, and Michigan is one of only seven states that do not fund public defense services. Instead, the burden falls to individual counties, which has led to a patchwork of financially strained systems.
A study by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, in partnership with the Michigan State Bar Association, revealed that the average time spent per case in Detroit is just 32 minutes. Each year, the part-time public defenders in Detroit handle 2,400 to 2,800 cases each, while the national standard for a full-time public defender is 400 cases.
Dr. Schuringa joins a team of 14 other hand-picked individuals who represent a range of voices from the fields of law, politics and criminal justice reform. Dr. Schuringa, who will represent the voice of the general public, brings to the commission his experience as president of an international prison ministry and as a member of the board of directors for the Michigan Campaign for Justice. The Campaign for Justice successfully achieved its goal last year of pushing House Bill 4529 through the legislature.
In a 2013 MLive article, Governor Snyder noted that although improving the indigent defense system will be an investment for Michigan, it is a worthy one, and a matter of justice. The article quotes Snyder, who says, “This is about one’s constitutional rights to have competent legal counsel. Everyone deserves it. Everyone deserves appropriate justice.”
Dr. Schuringa firmly agrees. “Along with Crossroad, I am deeply committed to advocating for the people that society has marginalized or forgotten,” he said. “I am thrilled and humbled to receive Governor Snyder’s appointment, and I look forward to partnering with others who are likewise passionate about achieving a better and fairer justice system.”