Sarah Lustbader is a Senior Legal Counsel at the Fair Punishment Project. She joined FPP after working as a Senior Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice and as a criminal defense attorney at The Bronx Defenders.
Lustbader will discuss the process of a criminal case from arrest through sentencing from the perspective of the defendant, the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the judge, with the emphasis on the defendant’s experience. Sarah will explore the myriad pressures, including threats to employment, family unity, education, housing, and immigration status that combine with the overall stress of having an open criminal case (not to mention the pressures at work when the defendant is jailed pretrial and cannot afford bail), to coerce defendants to plead guilty. From the legal perspective, although many believe that defense attorneys are given advantages over prosecutors to protect the rights of those accused, nothing could be further from the truth. She will explain why defense attorneys routinely feel like they have to fight their cases blindfolded, with one hand tied behind their back, and against an opponent who is also, for all intents and purposes, acting as a referee.