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The Cost of Representation Compared to the Cost of Incarceration: How Defense Lawyers Reduce The Costs of Running the Criminal Justice System
By John P. Gross and Jerry J. Cox
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Bench & Bar magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Bar Association.
Fifty years ago the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the “obvious truth” that a lawyer is a necessity and not a luxury when a defendant faces a criminal charge.1 While the need for the assistance of counsel may have been obvious to the Court, legislators have not always seen things quite so clearly. The reluctance to adequately fund indigent defense is undoubtedly based on an unwillingness to spend money on attorneys to represent defendants who are perceived as most likely guilty. Providing defendants with representation is therefore seen as a waste of money; attorneys will only delay the inevitable and will make the criminal justice system less efficient. Indigent defense providers have typically responded to this sort of prejudice by pointing out that every defendant is presumed to be innocent and is entitled to due proce
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