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Criminal Defense for the Poor, 1986

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1988

This study replicates the methodology used in a 1982 survey of State criminal defense programs for the poor, using a stratified sample of 718 counties in 50 States to update and provide comparable data on indigent defense services.


Data were collected in 5 phases: sampling plan, survey development, respondent identification, survey fielding and followup, and data compilation and analysis. Two sets of survey instruments were administered to the same stratified sample of the earlier survey. The instruments focused on cost, type of program, sources of defense funding, and caseloads for 1986. Findings indicate a 60 percent increase in spending (to nearly $1 billion) nationwide to provide legal representation for criminal defendants. Cases involving appointment of counsel for indigent defendants rose 40 percent in 1986 to 4.4 million. Among 3,083 counties nationwide, the percent that used assigned counsel for indigent defense dropped to 52 percent in 1986 from 60 percent earlier.

Date Published: September 1, 1988