WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced nearly $10 million to support federal and state public defenders and state and local prosecutors.
"The ability to attract and retain qualified, talented attorneys is a pressing challenge faced by our criminal justice system," said Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for OJP. "With investments in initiatives such as the John R. Justice program, OJP is helping jurisdictions ensure communities are protected and the fundamental rights of citizenry are upheld."
OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the funding pursuant to the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act. This is the first year that BJA awarded this funding to each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide loan repayment assistance for federal and state public defenders and state and local prosecutors who agree to remain employed as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years. The funding formula, calculated by OJP's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), includes a minimum base allocation enhanced by an amount proportional to the state's share of the national population. In each state the Governor designated a state agency (in the District of Columbia, the Mayor designated the agency) to administer the John R. Justice program.
"The John R. Justice program will strengthen our justice systems by helping to recruit and keep well qualified and high-functioning prosecutors and public defenders in civil service, where these systems and the communities they serve can benefit from their continued service," said Jim Burch, Acting Director for BJA.
According to BJS, about 1,000 public defender offices in 49 states and the District of Columbia received nearly 5.6 million cases and employed over 15,000 litigating attorneys in 2007. Using the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals' numeric caseload standard, BJS examined public defender office caseloads and found that the majority of offices exceeded the maximum recommended number of cases per attorney. These findings are based on two reports BJS released on September 16, 2010.
More information on the John R. Justice program, including the Governor designated state agencies and the award allocation, is available at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/johnrjustice.html.
The BJS reports, State Public Defender Programs, 2007 (NCJ 228229) and County-based and Local Public Defender Offices, 2007 (NCJ 231175), written by statisticians Donald Farole, Jr. and Lynn Langton, can be found at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at www.ojp.gov.
SOURCE Office of Justice Programs