Missouri needs 300 more public defenders

7 months 2 days 16 hours ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:04:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
By: Rob Veno, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - The Public Defenders Office is requesting increased funding for to help pay for more public defenders.

The office went before the House Budget Committee Thursday. Comptroller Kathy Lear said the office is requesting an increase of roughly $30 million. Nearly all of that would go to funding additional attorneys.

The director of the Public Defenders Office, Michael Barrett, said “We’ve had vacancies open for six months or for a year in many jurisdictions in this state.” 

According to the American Bar Association, Missouri currently needs about 300 more public defenders to, “provide competent representation.”

In Boone County, Barrett said, the office has more than 100,000 cases per year. That means the attorneys don't have the time needed to spend with each individual case.

The bar association said public defenders in Missouri should be spending an average of 47 hours per case, but instead can only spend nine.

“They just don't have the time." Barrett said.

Currently Missouri ranks 49th in pay for its public defenders, who are paid between $39,000-$63,000 per year. That's roughly $355 dollars per case. A lawyer in a private firm could expect to make that much money in a single hour.

Barrett said the requested increase in funding would raise the low end of salaries by $7,000. He said that would make it possible to attract more lawyers, who can leave college with an average of 100,000-200,000 of student debt.

“Many of them want to work for the system, many people want to protect people's rights, they just can’t afford to,” he said.

Without the additional funding, lawyers are becoming increasingly either unable or unwilling to become public defenders, Barrett said, and those who are willing to take the low-paying jobs aren't always the most best fit.

“The only applicant for one of our positions was a licensed attorney in Illinois who’s got a DWI and doesn’t have the ability to drive,” Barrett said. “These are the kinds of preposterous discussions we’re having to put people in offices.”

Barrett said the situation is leading to increased waiting times for inmates and those inmates are often getting short-changed because the public defenders can't adequately represent them.

“I think the state, if it has an interest in the criminal justice system being relied upon before we take away someone’s liberties, we're going to have to do a better job,” Barrett said.

 

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Bird scooters will be discussed at the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission meeting Wednesday night. The commission will... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 3:15:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA -- The mayor of Columbia's task force on Climate Action and Adaptation planning could recommend an increase in renewable... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:24:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Jeff Jones is living just a quarter of a mile away from a future Controlled Animal Feeding... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 8:26:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Assistant City Counselor Jose Caldera announced the city and Bird are talking about short-term rules regulating the rental... More >>
13 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 7:25:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Task Force One continues rescuing people, checking on others and sheltering those in need in the wake... More >>
13 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 6:48:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - After volunteering at a detention center for women and children seeking asylum in the U.S., one Jefferson City... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 5:20:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A teenager pleaded guilty Monday in connection with a deadly 2016 shooting on Claudell Lane. Navarro Scott,... More >>
16 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:35:11 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
SUNRISE BEACH - Fire Chief Dennis Reilly announced his resignation due to harassment from a board member. Reilly said... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - City employees are getting a raise in this year's budget, but some say it's not enough for line... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:13:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A lawn care app launched in Columbia to connect consumers with people who want to make extra money... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 2:16:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department is set to receive nine brand new police vehicles in the next... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:56:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
MACON - Deputies are investigating after a member of the Missouri National Guard was shot at a training site near... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:40:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
(CNN Money) -- Facebook's ad targeting system is being used by some employers to unlawfully discriminate based on gender, a... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 11:06:05 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
NEOSHO (AP) — A southwest Missouri man has pleaded guilty to shooting at a sheriff's deputy during a chase. ... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 10:41:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A woman has been arrested on suspicion of abuse or neglect of a 4-year-old child. Police arrested... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 10:11:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A more than 25-year-old park shelter and playground could say goodbye soon. The replacement of those two... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 7:52:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Council approved the 2019 fiscal year budget Monday for $32,807,390.05. Mayor Carrie Tergin... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 10:13:00 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
FULTON - The Fulton Police Department arrested five people Monday for stealing from a Hibbett Sports store in Fulton. ... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 9:49:00 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
9am 76°
10am 79°
11am 83°
12pm 86°