Friday, February 02, 2007

Task Force on Indigent Defense reports 2006 successes

The Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense has posted its 2006 annual report online (pdf). Lots of interesting stuff here that may merit further examination, but I wanted to go ahead and put the link out there. The TTFID rightly pats itself on the back for expanding the number of clients represented by public defenders in Texas:
In 2006, the Task Force helped establish through funding the first regional public defender office in the state (serving Val Verde, Edwards, Terrell and Kinney counties). There was also continued funding of two new public defender offices in the state – Bexar and Hidalgo. Texas has nearly doubled the number of public defender offices that existed before the Texas Fair Defense Act established the Task Force.
In addition, the task force's latest newsletter offers a number of heartening stories of successful programs the TTFID has funded. Those wonkish few interested in more detail may also want to see the Task Force's orientation materials presented to new judges at a recent conference in Lubbock explaining the importance of indigent defense. Last fall, TTFID also published this analysis providing evidence of the feasibility of public defender systems in Texas.

County officials should note responses to the current request for grant applications to the task force for their next funding cycle are due Feb. 9.

These folks are doing good work and the Indigent Defense Task Force has been one of the true, unsung success stories in Texas criminal justice politics over the past several years. If our state's leaders chose to support its work as lavishly as they do, for example, wasteful border security boondoggles, it'd go a long way toward fixing many of the problems caused by low-quality indigent defense.

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