State, national groups support Indiana public defense reform

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The Indiana Lawyer on 02/06/2019 by Olivia Covington

Leaders of state and national criminal justice organizations are declaring their support for the Indiana Public Defender Commission’s reform initiative, which the commission is presenting to the Indiana General Assembly this year in an effort to secure additional funds to expand and improve indigent defense services statewide.

In a letter submitted to House Speaker Brian Bosma, Senate President pro tempore Rod Bray, House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane on Jan. 22, leaders of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Right on Crime, Due Process Institute, Freedom Works, Prison Fellowship and Americans for Prosperity-Indiana urged the Legislature to support the commission’s 2019-2021 budget requests. Those requests would allocate roughly $40.8 million to the commission per fiscal year in the biennial budget and would include additional funds for the commission’s priorities.

Those priorities, as presented to the House Ways and Means Committee last month, include an increase in the commission’s base funding and additional appropriations for the reimbursement of misdemeanor cases and the creation of a statewide appellate office. The base funding increase would cost the state $4.47 million per fiscal year, while misdemeanor reimbursements would come with an annual $5.7 million and the appellate office would cost $4.9 million annually