The average Cook County public defender handles 522 cases a year, a caseload higher than any other jurisdiction in the country.
Rita Fry knows what it's like. She worked in the Cook County public defender's office from 1980 to 2003 and told our reporter Angela Caputo about how she often met clients for the first time at their court date.
“I said, ‘Judge, I haven’t had an opportunity to meet with my clients or anything.’ He said, ‘That’s OK because they’re right behind you.’”
One of the many things that troubles Frye about the justice system is the hundreds of thousands of young people she's seen locked up, mostly on drug charges, and what that means for their future. Here Frye shares her experiences and her reflections on what needs to change about Cook County's justice system.
Read all of Caputo's interview with Frye in our 40th anniversary issue.