Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lies, damn lies, and claims by counties about unfunded mandates on indigent defense

Officials in Tom Green County are telling the press and the public that the state owes counties some $2.6 billion for indigent defense costs dating back to 2001.

This is silly and utterly false.  The state of Texas in reality doesn't "owe" counties a dime for indigent defense and is not "in arrears." But when government officials repeat a lie often enough, folks begin to believe it. As it happens, I recently addressed this question in the comments, but since the meme is spreading, let's repeat what I said here:
The counties are calculating their increased costs post-Texas Fair Defense Act (2001) and claiming the state should pay for those. That's silly, for reasons I've discussed before. First, inflation and population increases account for much of the growth. The rest comes from counties being forced to provide counsel in cases where they SHOULD have done so before but were not adequately shouldering their responsibilities.
IMO the state should only agree to reimburse more to counties for indigent defense if counties agree to a cap and trade system to limit mass incarceration on the back end. 
The locals want to retain all the discretion and shift all the costs to the state, but that's not how politics works.


Anonymous said...

Ultimately; none of this matters. The county and the state get their money from the same place; us.

Anonymous said...

Why not look at how lawyers cajole poor people into letting their legal representatives max out credit cards to pay for ludicrous fees that usually get no positive results?

Wise Texan said...

Being someone who's been at the mercy of the Tom Green County judicial system, this doesn't surprise me one bit.