CSAC Bulletin Article

OSPD’s New Reports About Indigent Defense

December 14, 2023

CSAC would like to share two reports that the Office of the State Public Defender’s (OPSD) Indigent Defense Improvement Division has created that might be helpful as you consider your public defense systems.

California’s 58 Public Defense Systems is a summary of OSPD’s 2023 statewide survey combined with other relevant data. The report displays the types of public defense systems across the state, disparities in access to non-attorney staff by levels of conflict representation, incarceration rates by county and legal deserts. Finally, it shows the discrepancy in access to state and federal grant funding for prosecutors versus public defense systems. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like the full data report from our 58-county survey.

Understanding the National Public Defense Workload Study: A practical guide to mapping common California offenses is a brief summary of RAND’s 2023 National Public Defense Workload Study which develops new national standards as to how many cases an attorney can reasonably have and provide effective assistance of counsel.  Our guide includes OSPD’s interpretation of how it applies to California law. It is critical that systems carefully track caseload information, including the severity of cases, to assess workloads and attorney staffing needs in public defense systems. We have also created a tool to assist counties in this caseload tracking. The tool can be used by an individual contractor or on a system level (see attached).

You are invited to join the OPSD for a discussion of both reports in their next Virtual Quarterly Meetup: County Administrators, Analysts and County Counsels on January 17th, 2024 from 1-2 pm.  Register here to attend.

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