HARRISBURG – February 28, 2020 − State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today issued the following statement regarding Montgomery County’s decision to fire Dean Beer and Keisha Hudson, the Chief and Deputy Chief of Montgomery County’s Public Defender Office.
“On behalf of my constituents and myself, I condemn Tuesday’s firing of Montgomery County Public Defenders Dean Beer and Keisha Hudson. Based on news reports, the written statement of reasons for termination issued by Montgomery County and my conversations with the two public defenders, it appears clear that they were fired in retaliation for identifying problems in how Montgomery County administers justice.
The triggering event which led to the firing seems to be Mr. Beer and Ms. Hudson’s participation in an amicus brief which called out Montgomery County’s antiquated and onerous bail system, which incarcerates far too many people for the non-crime of not having enough money.
Cash bail is, and always has been, a way to warehouse poor people. If today a millionaire and someone earning minimum wage are arrested for the exact same crime, almost any crime, the millionaire will be home with his family by tonight, while the working person may be stuck in prison for weeks or months for no reason other than their inability to pay their bail. To add insult to injury, it costs taxpayers over $40,000 to incarcerate people who have not been convicted of anything. As the author of the pending legislation to eliminate cash bail, I am particularly troubled that someone would be punished for pointing out its inherent flaws.
This is an archaic, discriminatory and cruel structure, and those on the front lines of the criminal justice system, such as public defenders, have the right, and indeed the obligation, to speak out against this sort of injustice. Being a Public Defender is a hard job. They are not highly paid and the work is long and difficult. Firing these public servants for speaking their mind is unconscionable. Rather than firing people who blow the whistle on bad practices, we should be thanking them for their service in a field where the pay is low, the work is hard and the deck is always stacked against them.
I call on the Montgomery County Commissioners to reinstate Mr. Beer and Ms. Hudson. Beyond that, I call on the commissioners to listen to them, and to implement the long-overdue reforms to our bail system that are so desperately needed.”
Senator Daylin Leach represents the 17th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery County and Delaware County. For more information visit www.senatorleach.com/newsroom.