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NCJ Number
R Klein; R Spangenberg
Date Published
43 pages
The long-term neglect of and lack of funding for indigent defense has created a major crisis in many States because constitutional protections are often guaranteed only to those who can afford to pay for them.
In impoverished urban centers and poor rural counties, limited funding for indigent defense cannot provide effective representation for those accused of a crime. In fiscal year 1990, for example, only 2.3 percent of all spending for criminal justice went to public defense. The U.S. Supreme Court's mandate to provide legal representation to indigent defendants is explicit, although the method by which counsel should be provided is left to the discretion of States and counties. Some States and counties have created public defender programs, while others rely on the private bar to accept court appointments. Three basic models for providing representation to indigent defendants include the public defender model, the assigned counsel model, and the contract model. The impact of inadequate funding and increased caseloads on the delivery of indigent defense services is discussed, and recommendations to address some of the caseload and funding programs are offered that include developing caseload/workload standards and finding alternative funding sources. Methods to contain criminal justice costs are noted. References and endnotes


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