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Since the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Justice has both funded and authored a variety of studies and reports relevant to the provision of indigent defense services. Where possible, links to the reports have been included and more will come on line in the coming months. As we work to make this a comprehensive bibliography of indigent defense materials authored or funded by the Department, please contact the Access to Justice Initiative at 202-514-5312 about any appropriate publications that may be missing from this list.

Title  Not Sorted Author Not Sorted Year Sorted Descending Funded By Not Sorted Description

Indigent Defense Services in the United States, FY 2008-2012 (NCJ 246683) 

Stephen D. Owens, Elizabeth Accetta, Jennifer J. Charles, and Samantha E. Shoemaker, U.S. Census Bureau 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics

This report was prepared for BJS by the U.S. Census Bureau. It describes the indigent defense system for each state and the District of Columbia, including information on administration, methods of operation, and funding.  It provides both direct and intergovernmental indigent defense expenditures of state governments for fiscal years 2008 through 2012, and presents some local government expenditures aggregated at the state level.  The report uses administrative data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Government Finance Survey and available data from state government budget and appropriation documents.

State Government Indigent Defense Expenditures, FY 2008–2012 (NCJ 246684) 

Erinn Herberman Ph.D. and Tracey Kyckelhahn, Ph.D., BJS Statisticians 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics

Provides data on state government indigent defense expenditures as well as trends in spending and comparisons with total state government judicial-legal expenditures. The report uses administrative data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Government Finance Survey and is a companion report to the Census Bureau's report, Indigent Defense Services in the United States: A Report Prepared for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Measuring the Effect of Defense Counsel on Homicide Case Outcomes (241158)

James M. Anderson; Paul Heaton 2012 National Institute of Justice

This study examined the impact of randomly assigned public defenders and court-appointed private attorneys in the outcome of criminal cases in Philadelphia, PA. The authors of this report used a sample dataset of 3,412 defendants charged with murder between 1994 and 2005. The study shows that compared to appointed counsel, public defenders reduce their client’s murder conviction rate by 19%, lowered the probability that their clients would receive a life sentence by 62%, and reduced overall expected time served in prison by 24.

Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice (NCJ 241389) Jon B. Gould (American University), Julia Carrano (American University), Richard Leo (University of San Francisco School of Law), Joseph Young (American University) 2012 National Institute of Justice This study examines why innocent people are wrongfully convicted in certain cases yet acquitted in others. The researchers studied 460 violent felonies that occurred between 1980 and 2012 to identify ten factors that led to a wrongful conviction of an innocent person instead of a dismissal or acquittal. The final report offers recommendations to help prevent erroneous convictions, including recommendations on defense practice, exculpatory evidence, eyewitness identification, false confessions, forensic error, police misconduct, weak prosecution evidence, systemic failures and tunnel vision.
The Anatomy of Discretion: An Analysis of Prosecutorial Decision Making – Technical Report(NCJ 240334) Bruce Frederick (Vera Institute of Justice) and Don Stemen (Loyola University Chicago) 2012 National Institute of Justice Authors of this report followed two county prosecutors’ offices to examine the impact of legal, quasi-legal, and extra-legal factors on case outcomes throughout the prosecutorial process. The report identifies relationships, along with rules and resources, as contextual constraints that can trump prosecutorial evaluations of the strength and seriousness of the evidence and the defendant’s criminal history. While the report finds that prosecutors generally do not alter their decisions simply based on the relationship with the defense attorney, some newer ADAs expressed that a cooperative defense attorney would receive more cooperation from the prosecution, while an antagonistic relationship between the two could result in negative consequences , like less time to prepare, for the defense attorney.
Title: Indigent Defense: DOJ Could Increase Awareness of Eligible Funding and Better Determine the Extent to Which Funds Help Support This Purpose (NCJ 238757) The Government Accountability Office 2012 The Government Accountability Office This report addresses, for fiscal years 2005 through 2010, the (1) types of support DOJ provided for indigent defense; (2) extent to which eligible DOJ funding was allocated or awarded for indigent defense, the factors affecting these decisions, and DOJ’s actions to address them; (3) percentage of DOJ funding allocated for indigent defense and how it was used; (4) extent to which DOJ collects data on indigent defense funding; and (5) extent to which DOJ assesses the impacts of indigent defense grants, indigent defense programs have been evaluated, and DOJ has supported evaluation efforts. (NCJ 238757, May 2012)
OJP Fact Sheet: Indigent Defense The Office of Justice Programs 2011 The Office of Justice Programs This Fact Sheet offers a brief snapshot of the current state of indigent defense in the U.S. as well as links to other indigent-defense-related informational resources. (FS 000381, December 2011, OJP)
Who’s Better at Defending Criminals? Does Type of Defense Attorney Matter in Terms of Producing Favorable Case Outcomes Thomas H. Cohen 2011 The Bureau of Justice Statistics This paper examines whether there are differences between defense counsel type and the adjudication and sentencing phases of criminal case processing. Results show that private attorneys and public defenders secure similar adjudication and sentencing outcomes for their clients. Defendants with assigned counsel, however, receive less favorable outcomes compared to their counterparts with public defenders. This article concludes by discussing the policy implications of these findings and possible avenues for future research.
International Perspectives on Indigent Defense (NCJ 236022) Maha Jweied and Miranda Jolicoeur (U.S. Department of Justice, Access to Justice Initiative and National Institute of Justice) 2011 Access to Justice Initiative; National Institute of Justice This is a report summarizing an Expert Working Group meeting that convened in January 2011 to discuss the international and domestic practice of criminal indigent defense and the research needed to improve it. The report provides the Federal Government and the indigent defense community with recommendations that can steer the direction of indigent defense research and potential reform strategies for years to come.
Working Paper: How Much Difference Does the Lawyer Make? The Effect of Defense Counsel on Murder Case Outcomes James M. Anderson and Paul Heaton (RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment) 2011 National Institute of Justice This Philadelphia study finds that appointed counsel, public defenders reduce their clients’ murder conviction rate by 19%, lower the probability that their clients receive a life sentence by 62%, and reduce overall expected time served in prison by 24%.