On Aug. 27, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) awarded more than $5 million in grants for fiscal year 2021 to Kerr, Atascosa, Galveston, McLennan and Nueces counties. According to TIDC, “Indigent Defense Improvement Grants are awarded to assist counties in developing new, innovative programs or processes to improve the delivery of indigent defense services.” Join us in congratulating these counties.
Kerr County submitted a proposal to establish the Hill Country Public Defender Office, which will serve Kerr, Bandera, Gillespie, Medina and Kendall counties. The project received the most funding, slightly more than $2.5 million. Kerr County Judge Robert Kelly said during the commission meeting that “the excitement of all the stakeholders in this is palpable. … They’re already hitting the ground running.” Medina County Judge Chris Schuchart echoed those sentiments to the commission.
Atascosa County submitted a proposal for the creation of a regional defender office, which will serve Atascosa, Wilson, Karnes and Frio counties. Its proposal was awarded more than $1.5 million. These counties plan to contract with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to operate the office, which will provide representation in nonconflict felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and appeal cases. Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley explained to the commission that this funding will “streamline the justice system in all four counties and will provide better indigent defense.”
Galveston County received $780,000 to establish a misdemeanor mental health public defender office. McLennan County was awarded $169,280 to establish the Mental Health Managed Attorney Program, and Nueces County received $135,121 to establish Indigent Defense Coordinator Services.
See TIDC’s news release for additional information on the grant winners. For more information on this article, please contact Kelsey Bernstein.