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 Indigent Defense

Indigent defense costs are up 171% since '01 - ow.ly/JdtjV - driving local property tax increases. #txlege #254Strong
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Indigent defense expenditures are one of the major uncontrollable cost drivers in county budgets. The state should fully fund this unfunded mandate.


  • Texas counties are responsible for the expenses associated with appointed counsel for indigent defendants.

  • Counties are authorized to deliver indigent defense services through a system that best meets local needs.

  • The costs of providing court appointed counsel for indigent defendants are significant and remain 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 appropriations in the next legislative session would assist counties and their taxpayers tremendously in offsetting the costs of this significant unfunded mandate.  

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