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Indigent Defense

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1996
4 pages
S K Smith; C J DeFrances
Publication Series
Publication Type
Indigent defense services for criminal defendants are described, based on findings from Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys.
The analysis revealed that States and localities use several methods for delivering indigent defense services: public defender programs, assigned counsel, and contract attorney systems. Twenty-eight percent of State court prosecutors reported that their jurisdictions used public defender programs exclusively to provide indigent counsel. In 1990, State and local governments spent approximately $1.3 billion on public defender services. About three-fourths of the inmates in State prisons and about half of those in Federal prisons received publicly provided legal counsel for the offense for which they were serving time. In 1992, about 80 percent of defendants charged with felonies in the 75 largest counties relied on a public defender or on assigned counsel for legal representation. However, little current information is available regarding the workload, staffing, procedures, or policies for indigent defense services across the country. Tables
Date Created: December 18, 2009