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National Criminal Defense Systems Study, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1986

This report presents data on the types of indigent defense systems operating in the United States and the funding sources, costs, and caseloads.


Based on survey responses from 750 county and State officials, the report is intended for use both by indigent defense practitioners and by planners and policymakers. A chapter on the level of organization and structure of indigent defense systems provides both national and State-by-State data. It also gives estimates of the frequency with which public defender, assigned counsel, and contract systems are used and describes the features of each system. Differences related to region or community size are also presented. A chapter on indigent defense expenditures and caseloads gives total costs and the amounts contributed by each source. It also provides per capita analyses for each State and for regions, as well as data on cost per case and cases per thousand population. Another chapter discusses features of case processing that are common to all systems, including indigency screening, recoupment, early representation, and the appointment of separate counsel for codefendants. A second volume gives State-by-State profiles and data on court organization, legislation relating to indigent defense, expenditures by source, and legislation and fee schedules for assigned counsel. Data tables, study methodology, and instruments. (Author summary modified)

Date Published: September 1, 1986