A bill that would increase the funding for the state public defender’s office got a hearing at the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Thursday.
Attorney Richard Jones from the Public Defender’s office says the disparity in funding between the Defender’s office and District Attorney’s offices makes it hard to recruit. “Prosecutors receive consistent, regular raises, that we’re not always entitled to.”
Jones says recruiting young attorneys to the Defender’s office is tougher when they don’t have the same support from the state that prosecutors do. “And my concern is that they’re in the safe fight as assistant district attorneys, and deserve to be compensated at the same level that we compensate them.”
“There are often times they’re struggling to pay bills, they’re weighed down by student loan debt, some of them attempt to work second jobs in addition to the enormous hours that we work.”
The bill would bring those funding levels in line, to go along with an increase in funding for hiring outside attorneys to handle public cases for indigent defendants.