Pennsylvania Allocates Over $250,000 for Indigent Defense Services

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HARRISBURG, PA — Senator Vincent Hughes, Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair, announced over $250,000 in funding for indigent defense services in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. This marks the first allocation from a state grant fund established last year through bipartisan legislation spearheaded by Senator Hughes and Senator Lisa Baker.

The new funding aims to address longstanding issues in Pennsylvania’s indigent defense system. In addition to the grant, the legislation created the Indigent Defense Advisory Committee (IDAC). The committee’s goal is to improve the quality and effectiveness of legal representation for those who cannot afford it.

“With this new money and the IDAC, indigent defense in Pennsylvania will no longer be an afterthought in our criminal justice system,” said Senator Hughes. “I’m proud to see these funds finally reach our public defenders and start fixing staffing and resource issues that have plagued our indigent defense systems for too long.”

As of 2021, more than half of criminal cases in Pennsylvania relied on public defenders. Despite this high demand, the state ranked 45th in total indigent defense funding. Pennsylvania was one of only two states that did not provide state funding for these services until last year.

In total, over $6.6 million has been approved for indigent defense services across the state. Governor Shapiro has proposed an additional $10 million in the 2024-2025 budget.

Senator Hughes emphasized his commitment to securing sustained funding for indigent defense. “Lawmakers and the legal community must work together to fulfill the promise of liberty and justice for all citizens of our Commonwealth. There is no justice without equal justice,” he said.

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