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Harris County indigent defense costs trending down

Via Grits, here’s an email from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition that shows some good news for Harris County.

New numbers from the Commission show that while total indigent defense expenses in Harris County increased by $4.7 million between 2007 and 2011, local indigent defense expenses were lower in 2011 than in 2007, and down more than $4 million from their 2010 peak.

In part, this may be due to the County’s increased use of alternative dispositions, greater care in case filings, and reliance on the new Public Defender’s Office.

To read more about the Public Defender’s Office, including staffing and support resources, workload and performance standards, and benefits in representation, click here.

That link is an email from Brandon Dudley to Jim Bethke of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission that goes into detail and shows the numbers. Grits summarizes it, and you should read both. While Dudley notes that his memo “should not be used as a substitute for the significant analysis being performed by the Justice Center, Council of State Governments” – a thorough review is expected later this year – it’s clear there’s good news to report. Check it out and see for yourself.

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