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Indigent Defense: DOJ Could Increase Awareness of Eligible Funding and Better Determine the Extent to Which Funds Help Support This Purpose

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2012
118 pages
This report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office to congressional requesters examines ways that the Department of Justice could improve awareness and funding for indigent defense.
Using data from fiscal years 2005 through 2010, this report presents information on the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ's) current efforts to provide funding for indigent defense and makes recommendations for improving these efforts. The evaluation looked at five specific areas: 1) the types of support DOJ provided for indigent defense; 2) the extent to which eligible DOJ funding was allocated or awarded for indigent defense, the factors affecting these decisions, and DOJ's actions to address them; 3) the percentage of DOJ funding allocated for indigent defense and how it was used; 4) the extent to which DOJ collects data on indigent defense funding; and 5) the extent to which DOJ assesses the impacts of indigent defense grants, indigent defense programs have been evaluated, and DOJ has supported evaluation efforts. Data for the evaluation were collected from surveys of 4,229 grant recipients about funding allocations, and a sample of 253 public defender offices which were surveyed about factors that influenced their decisions to apply for funding for indigent defense. The evaluation of DOJ's efforts found that the department could more consistently collect data on the amount of funding allocated for indigent defense. In addition, it was found that the department has the ability to assess the impact of indigent defense grant funding as well as mechanisms in place to help indigent defense providers evaluate their services. Tables, figures, and appendixes