Value of Improving Funding for Indigent Defense and Recommendations for Implementation
24 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 13, 2018
The right to counsel is a constitutionally protected right; however, it is not an absolute right and the mandate is unfunded. Robust indigent defense is a way to reduce the human suffering caused by our criminal justice system as well as the financial cost to the taxpayer. However, in most jurisdictions, little data is collected to inform how to sustainably provide indigent defense and the optimal delivery methods for that jurisdiction. The goal of this paper is to outline the best practices in providing and funding indigent defense to protect people’s rights and minimize incarceration. We accomplish this by addressing three topics. First, by highlighting methods of improving data collection to ensure decisions can be based on reliable information. Next, by explaining how the federal government currently funds indigent defense in the states and identifying opportunities for additional funding, we address existing opportunities to increase funding for indigent defense. Finally, we discuss how governors can navigate the politics of taking up indigent defense as a cause.
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