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March 27, 2007

The crisis in criminal justice funding

20070326defenders The National Law Journal has this important new article entitled "Public Defenders, Prosecutors Face a Crisis in Funding." The story focuses on a few particular state systems, though it justifiably suggests that adequate funding is a nationwide problem:

A review by The National Law Journal shows that many public defender's offices across the country are strained beyond capacity or tipping into crisis.  Inadequate funding has led to constant turnover, staff reductions and spiraling caseloads. 

Litigation over poorly funded public defender systems are pending in Michigan and Louisiana.  The problem has become so acute that in at least one jurisdiction, officials toyed with the idea of trimming back workweeks. New York attorneys, tired of inconsistent funding and a patchwork organization, are pushing this month to launch a statewide public defender system.

In some jurisdictions, prosecutor's offices are not much better off. While salaries are slightly higher, prosecutors in states across the country are seeing the same budgetary stalemates and rising caseloads as their defense colleagues.  In one jurisdiction, prosecutors are thinking of unionizing to counteract the effect of static budgets and rising caseloads.

March 27, 2007 at 07:23 AM | Permalink


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