Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 5, 2013

Push continues to fix indigent defense

(Continued)

“It’s not like we have a lot of money lying around. We’re charged with protecting the taxpayer dollar at the local level, too,” Bodkin said.

Advocates pushing for changes in Michigan estimate 83 counties spent about $75 million to $80 million in 2009 on criminal defense for the poor, ranking 44th-lowest nationally.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who helped block the legislation last year, said he has been told the state itself could spend $50 million annually within five years if the measure is approved. The former sheriff is skeptical that widespread improvements are needed to counties’ public defense systems, but said a deal may be close.

“I would speculate that if I can get the counties onboard and satisfied that it’s a fair program, it will be signed into law,” Jones said.

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Online:

House Bills 4529-30: http://1.usa.gov/13Su2Xb

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