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Criminal Defense Systems - A National Survey

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1984
A survey conducted in 1982 produced national baseline data on the types of public defense systems, their funding sources, their costs, and their caseloads.

Data came from 2 survey instruments that were used in a stratified survey of 718 counties throughout the United States. In 1982, expenditures totaled nearly $625 million for indigent defense services in almost 3.2 million cases tried in State and local courts. Sixty percent of the counties used assigned counsel, a decline from 72 percent of counties in 1973. However, 43 of the 50 largest counties serving 68 percent of the United States population used public defender systems. Fifteen States administered the public defender systems, and 32 other States and the District of Columbia had locally administered systems. Formal criteria for indigency were common and varied from State to State. Seventy-five percent of the counties required defendants to repay part of their defense costs, although 25 percent of these counties reported no payments received in 1982. More than half the case assignments to attorneys representing indigent defendants took place within 48 hours of arrest. Data tables and narrative descriptions of costs and caseloads, methodological details, list of reports from Bureau of Justice statistics.

Date Published: August 1, 1984