Here is a Hall County Public Defender who is a member of Gideon's Promise featured in New York Time's "True Believer" series.
Note that the 5,000,000 cases handed to 15,000 public defenders each year averages out to 333 new cases per public defender per year, or about sever new cases per week. In a typical 40-hour work week, that means each new case would get a total of about 5 hours of attention on average. I spend twice that much time on minor cases.
It is clear that the public defender system is broken. It is horribly under-funded, under-staffed, and over-worked. Defendants - many who should not qualify for public defenders at all - grasp at the opportunity for a "free lawyer" and overrun the system. It is analogous to a bunch of people all trying to get in the same lifeboat until it finally tips over. Perhaps the system will be fixed one day. Until then, if you want your case to get the attention it deserves; if you want to have an attorney willing to walk the road beside you; then you need to hire a private attorney.