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Profile of Indigent Defense and Presentencing Jail Time in Mississippi

NCJ Number
Justice System Journal Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Dated: 2004 Pages: 209-225
Blakely F. Fender; Carl Brooking
Date Published
17 pages
This Mississippi study measured the influence of type of defense for indigent defendants while controlling for the severity of the offense.
Mississippi is one of a few States in the country that requires counties to assume the entire responsibility for funding indigent defense services. Consequently, Mississippi's counties have adopted different types of systems for compensating their public defenders. The four distinct public-defender compensation systems used by the counties are a full-time public defender office; a part-time contract public defender system; a part-time, rotating-list public defender system that pays attorneys on a county list a fixed fee per case handled; and a part-time rotating-list public defender system that pays attorneys an hourly fee. Data were collected from 11 counties selected to include each of these types of systems. From these counties, 700 records of indigents arrested for a felony were examined. These cases were resolved in either 2000 or 2001. Time spent in jails was defined as the number of days in jail between the arrest date and the date when the case was disposed. When controlling for severity of offense, the study found that in counties with full-time public defenders, indigent defendants served longer presentencing jail time than those in counties with assigned or contract counsel. These results call for more refined, multivariate analysis in which the direct and indirect effects of all pertinent variables can be examined. 6 figures, 13 references, and appended variable definitions and medians for jail time by type of representation and crime category


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