Department Awards Funds to Prosecutors, Public Defenders
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Public Safety today announced it has awarded more than $169,000 in student loan repayment assistance to encourage qualified attorneys choose and stay in careers as state prosecutors and state public defenders.
"Getting and retaining talented attorneys for positions with state prosecuting attorneys and state and public defenders is essential to ensuring that Missouri’s criminal justice system works efficiently and that justice is served," said Department of Public Safety Director John M. Britt. "This program, which is funded entirely with federal funds, can help make public careers in the criminal justice system more competitive with the private sector."
Awards were made to a total of 29 prosecutors and 11 public defenders across the state. Awards ranged from $2,634 to $7,701 for prosecutors and public defenders who agree to remain employed as prosecutors and public defenders for at least three years. The contract period is Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2011.
Student loan debt is consistently cited as the overwhelming reason why attorneys decline or leave positions as prosecutors and public defenders. The John R. Justice Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, assists full-time state prosecutors and state or federal public defenders who are continually licensed to practice law and prosecute criminal or juvenile delinquency cases.
The Department of Public Safety, Office of the Director is the state administering agency.
Funds were made available to states based on the total population of each state, with a minimum amount of $100,000. Missouri received a total of $169,423. The money will be paid quarterly, directly to the institution that holds the student loan. The individual is responsible for continuing to make payments on their loan during the contract period.
The program is named for the late John Reid Justice of South Carolina, a former president of the National District Attorneys Association.