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By Malia Brink
Indigent Defense columns.
The comprehensive reform bill to establish a regional public defender
system has passed in Louisiana! The bill passed both the Criminal
Justice Committee and the Appropriations Committee of the House
unanimously. It was then sent to the floor where it passed by a vote of
100-1. After the vote, almost 50 house members asked to be added as
co-sponsors before the bill was sent to the Senate. In the Senate, it
passed the Judiciary Committee and the Finance Committee, and then went
to the floor where it passed 25-7. The governor signed the bill, and it
Additionally, the money for the public defender system was added via the
overall appropriation bill. More than $9 million in additional state
money was awarded this year. In the past three years of this effort, the
state has added more than $25 million in funding to indigent defense.
Total funding (state funding and court fees) for the next fiscal year
will be approximately $55 million.
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