NACDL News: Study Reveals ‘Profound and Dramatic Understaffing’ of Rhode Island Public Defender Syst

In order to determine whether defenders in Rhode Island are facing a caseload crisis, NACDL, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (ABA SCLAID), and the BlumShapiro accounting firm undertook an assessment of the Rhode Island Public Defender system (RIPD). The findings of this study, along with the underlying data and analysis, are detailed in The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System and Attorney Workload Standards. Based upon the data, the RIPD would require 136 full-time equivalent attorneys to provide the necessary minimum level of representation needed for the average 15,000 new cases assigned each year. As of July 2017, there were only 49 public defenders in the entire state.