Indigent Defense Publications

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.
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Displaying 1 - 25 of 76
Title Author Yearsort ascending Funded By Description
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 (OJP)

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.

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 (OJP)

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.

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 (OJP)

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.

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 (OJP)

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.

Measuring the Effect of Defense Counsel on Homicide Case Outcomes (241158) James M. Anderson; Paul Heaton 2012 National Institute of Justice (OJP)

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.

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 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)

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 National Institute of Justice (OJP)

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.

Who’s Better at Defending Criminals? Does Type of Defense Attorney Matter in Terms of Producing Favorable Case Outcomes Thomas H. Cohen 2011 Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)

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.

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 (OJP)

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%.

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

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.

BJS Selected Findings: Census of Public Defender Offices, 2007: Public Defender Offices, 2007 – Statistical Tables (Revised) (NCJ 228538) Lynn Langton and Donald J. Farole, Jr. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)

This report provides a summary of focus group discussions held to review the successes and failures in the delivery of public defense services, and assess the lessons learned resulting in recommendations for the future.

BJS Special Report: Census of Public Defender Offices, 2007: County-based and Local Public Defender Offices, 2007 (NCJ 231175) Lynn Langton and Donald J. Farole, Jr. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)

This BJS produced report examines the provision of public defender services in the 27 states and the District of Columbia in which indigent defense services were funded and administered by counties or local jurisdictions in 2007.

BJS Special Report: Census of Public Defender Offices, 2007: State Public Defender Programs, 2007 (NCJ 22829) Lynn Langton and Donald J. Farole, Jr. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)

This BJS produced report examines the provision of public defender services in the 22 States that had an entirely State-funded and State-administered indigent defense program in 2007.

Public Defense Reform Since Gideon: Improving the Administration of Justice By Building On Our Successes and Learning From Our Failures - A Public Defense Leadership Focus Group (NCJ 230794) U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance; National Legal Aid & Defender Association; Bureau of Justice Assistance Criminal Courts Technical Assistance Project at American University 2008 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This report provides a summary of focus group discussions held to review the successes and failures in the delivery of public defense services and assess the lessons learned resulting in recommendations for the future.

Efficiency, Timeliness, and Quality: A New Perspective from Nine State Criminal Trial Courts (NCJ 178403) Brian J. Ostrom and Roger A. Hanson (National Center for State Courts) 2003 National Institute of Justice (OJP)

This study examines the relationship between case processing timeliness and quality, finding that more efficient work orientations attorneys and attorneys’ views about their work environment and toward each other’s activities were linked to the timeliness of their court.

North Carolina: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (NCJ 204538) Lynn Grindall and Patricia Puritz (American Bar Association and the Southern Juvenile Justice Center in collaboration with National Juvenile Defender Center and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services) 2003 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

This study assesses access to legal counsel and the quality of legal representation for juveniles in delinquency proceedings in North Carolina.

The Implementation and Impact of Indigent Defense Standards (NCJ 205023) Scott Wallace and David Carroll (National Legal Aid & Defender Association) 2003 National Institute of Justice (OJP)

This report discusses the impact of indigent defense standards in assessing the need for standardization of this constitutionally mandated governmental service.

The Executive Session on Public Defense, Bulletin #3: Cultural Revolution: Transforming the Public Defender’s Office (NCJ 193773) Robin Steinberg and David Feige (Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government) 2002 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This bulletin discusses basic values of the public defender culture in order to create a desire to re-evaluate these values and provide a set of concrete suggestions by which public defender managers can make an office model more holistic.

BJS Special report: National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems, 1999: State-Funded Indigent Defense Services, 1999 (NCJ 188464) Carol J. DeFrances (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)

This report examines the characteristics and operations of State-funded indigent defense systems, including how the programs are organized and state operating expenditures.

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and American Bar Association, Bar Information Program State Commissions Project: The Year in Review (The Spangenberg Report, Volume VI, Issue 3, Feb. 2001) David J. Carroll (The Spangenberg Group) 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This report has articles on individual states' indigent defense efforts, regional developments, and an international perspective. Articles topics include a release of a Texas indigent defense study, DOJ's release of Standards for Indigent Defense Systems, and the Iowa Indigent Defense Advisory Committee

BJA Monograph, Indigent Defense Series #4: Keeping Defender Workloads Manageable (NCJ 185632) The Spangenberg Group 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This report discusses approaches developed by public defender organizations, state legislatures, state courts and other entities to managing the workloads of attorneys who represent indigent defendants.

BJA Bulletin: The Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office Juvenile Sentencing Advocacy Project (NCJ 187158) Kelly D. Johnson (Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections at The George Washington University) 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

Miami-Dade Public Defender's Juvenile Sentencing Advocacy Project is a juvenile justice sentencing plan that permits judges in adult courts to sentence transferred juveniles to the State's Department of Juvenile Justice, thereby maximizing the effective rehabilitation of youth in a system that was designed to recognize and respond to the developmental needs of adolescents.

The Executive Session on Public Defense, Bulletin #1: Bolder Management for Public Defense: Leadership in Three Dimensions (NCJ 187768) Cait Clarke and Christopher Stone (Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government) 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

Using examples from around the Nation, this paper suggests ways in which managers of public defense services can lead their organizations and their field.

BJA Bulletin: Criminal Courts Technical Assistance Project (NCJ 185780) Joseph A. Trotter (Criminal Courts Technical Assistance Project, American University) 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This report describes the services and summarizes the publications of the Criminal Courts Technical Assistance Project. Services include onsite consultation to individual courts, justice system agencies, and general government agencies, multijurisdictional workshops, and best-practice guides.

The Executive Session on Public Defense, Bulletin #2: What Policymakers Need To Know To Improve Public Defense Systems (NCJ 190725) Tony Fabelo (Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government) 2001 Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)

This paper is one in a series of papers developed by the Executive Session on Public Defense, a 30-member effort with leading figures in public defense. It sets out questions to aid policymakers in assessing the value and effectiveness of their public defense systems.

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