Indigent Defense

Indigent defense expenditures are one of the major uncontrollable cost drivers in county budgets. The state should fully fund this unfunded mandate.

Download Issue Brief


Key Points

  • Texas counties are responsible for the costs of appointed counsel for indigent defendants.
  • Counties are authorized to deliver indigent defense services through a system that best meets local needs.
  • Providing court appointed counsel for indigent defendants is a major uncontrollable expense in county budgets.
  • Since passage of the Fair Defense Act (2001), indigent defense costs have increased 171 percent from $91.4 million in 2001 to $247.7 million in 2016. State grants have covered only a small proportion of those costs.
  • In FY 2014, the state funded only about $31.6 million of the total statewide indigent defense costs, while counties contributed approximately $216.1 million (about 87 percent of the total costs).
  • Additional state funding in the next legislative session would assist counties and their taxpayers in offsetting the costs of this significant unfunded mandate.

Graphics Gallery


Download Infographic Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
 

Download Infographic Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


Related Articles

Indigent defense bill grows

Athens Daily Review, Feb. 7, 2017Henderson County has passed an expensive milestone concerning the cost of indigent defense. County Judge Richard Sanders said the county spent more than $1 million dollars defending those who couldn't afford an attorney in 2016...

State payments for indigent defense continue to dip in Gregg County

Longview News Journal, Feb. 6, 2017Gregg County on Monday accepted a $117,000 grant to pay for court-appointed defense attorneys this year, a state contribution the county auditor welcomed while noting it is far less than what is spent on indigent defendants — and less than the state provided a year ago...

Gideon Award

Making Gideon Proud

County Magazine, Feb 22, 2013About 10 years ago, the Wichita County Office of the Public Defender (OPD), like all county indigent defense programs across the state, was facing a crisis...

Texas Indigent Defense Commission Asks State to Close the Indigent Defense Funding Gap

County Magazine, Dec 20, 2012The start of 2013 will bring the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that assistance of counsel is essential to justice and fair outcomes in our criminal justice system...