Missouri needs 300 more public defenders

9 months 4 weeks 1 day 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 - Students walking around MU's famous Quad may have seen an unexpected visitor Thursday. MU student Massimo Montalbano... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 1:50:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The scooter company Lime announced it has taken its scooters out of Columbia for the immediate future. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 1:49:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 1:22:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The number of homeless people living in Boone County has increased in the past 10 years, according to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 12:52:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Johnson & Johnson's ( JNJ ) stock fell as much as 11% on Friday — on track for... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 11:46:00 AM CST December 14, 2018 in News
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a day... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 11:39:38 AM CST December 14, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Facebook announced on Friday that the social network had exposed the private photos of millions of users without... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 10:15:10 AM CST December 14, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- President Donald Trump's former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen said his former boss knew that having Cohen arranging... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 9:44:00 AM CST December 14, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU Professor Francis Huang wants schools to rethink suspensions and embrace a positive learning environment. Haung conducted... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:10:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- 20 bikes and helmets were donated to Columbia kids in time for the holiday season. Big Brothers Big... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 7:15:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The former chief financial officer for Columbia Public Schools was sentenced Thursday to five years probation. Anna... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 6:25:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City teen has been charged in connection with a November fatal shooting. Bruce Thomas... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 6:07:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some people who live near the intersection of Vandiver Drive and Parker Street just north of Interstate 70... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 4:33:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police are investigating multiple reports of bomb threats made via email to businesses in the Columbia area,... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:52:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Department of Transportation director Patrick McKenna met with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday to discuss the... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:21:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in Continuous News
WASHINGTON D.C. - Democrat Claire McCaskill had stern words for her soon-to-be former colleagues in the Senate in a farewell... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:20:50 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Department of Transportation director Patrick McKenna met with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday to discuss the... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:09:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
(CNN) - Gun deaths in America have reached a record high. Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, December 13 2018 Dec 13, 2018 Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:09:00 PM CST December 13, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 39°
10pm 35°
11pm 34°
12am 33°
1am 32°