Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reports analyze new Texas public defender systems

Since I'm writing so much about people sitting around in county jail awaiting trial on low-level charges, the subject of indigent defense comes easily to mind. Checking in at the website of the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, two new items stand out on their publications page:
I've not had a chance to go through them yet but wanted to pass the links along to those interested in the recent growth of Texas public defender systems.

The Bexar/Hidalgo analysis is a 40-page consultant's report analyzing new public defender systems in those two counties. The Val Verde document is a five page description of the state's first multi-county public defender office, which will be operated on a contract basis by the nonprofit Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. I understand tiny Willacy County in South Texas will be getting a PD office, soon, and suburban/rural Kaufman County east of Dallas will launch a public defender office this fall as well.

Many counties find that public defenders fulfill indigent defendants' right to counsel in a more prompt, cost-effective manner than private attorneys. More Texas counties are moving in that direction with help from grants from the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, and more should.

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