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National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems

NCJ Number
Ira Mickenberg
Date Published
December 1997
10 pages
After reviewing previous studies of indigent defense services in the United States, this report states the purpose of a new national survey of indigent defense systems and outlines the topics considered for inclusion in the questionnaire as determined by a Working Group assembled by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics in March 1997.
The new survey is being proposed because in the 15 years since the last comprehensive national survey of indigent defense systems, the criminal justice system has changed in ways that have rendered much of that study obsolete. This report lists some examples of the changes that have occurred within the public defender community. Five purposes of the new survey are outlined. First, it will determine how changes in the criminal justice system have influenced the delivery of defender services. Second, it will examine how institutional defenders have responded to these changes in terms of structure, funding, and method of client representation. Third, it will determine which of these responses have been successful and which need improvement or change. Fourth, it will provide the information needed to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of service offered by various forms of defender offices. Fifth, it will provide a basis for determining what resources defender offices will need to respond to these changes in the future. In expanding on the purposes and methodologies of the survey, this report discusses data-organization and data-collection issues. Appendixes list the members of the Working Group and provide a listing of the available relevant literature.