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The Champion

August 2007 , Page 53 

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Public Defense

By Malia Brink

Read more Public 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 is law.

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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