Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Today’s GPDSC Update

Posted by Maggie on February 1, 2008

So Georgia’s public defense system spent years being less than mediocre. It was dismal. Then they came together and formed GPDSC to correct the problems. I have a lot of problems with GPDSC, as readers may know. I think they’re an agency with the highest of goals but that they often don’t act like it. However, I think they’re regularly in a tight spot. Since their formation and the State’s realization that this is actually going to cost them some money, it’s been pretty constant criticism.

The Georgia legislature has a committee investigating GPDSC and their use of funds. The committee is chaired by Senator Preston Smith, his bio doesn’t list his experience besides the general label of “attorney” but I’m guessing he used to be a prosecutor. Here’s a link to his feelings on Nichols. Want a particularly nasty quote? Why certainly…

Prior to the initiation of the new statewide public defenders system, Georgia’s 159 counties contributed between $60 and $70 million taxpayer dollars toward the cost of providing free lawyers to people accused of committing crimes. A mere three years later, with the “improvements” promised by a “streamlined” statewide system for efficiency and fairness, those costs have ballooned into a combined $110 million dollars of county and state monies.

“Justice has no price tag,” we are told, so criminals who claim to be indigent must have the unlimited use of the taxpayers’ checkbook. This perhaps explains why 90 percent of those charged with crimes claim such a status.

It makes me ill to read it, to be honest. Yes, of course, they just “claim” to be indigent. Let’s not even talk about the issue of poverty at all. And let’s ignore the fact that Georgia’s old system was what everyone used as the example of what not to be.

Anyway. Senator Smith and his committee put out a report today (that I have yet to get my eyes on and I’ll update once it’s posted) blasting GPDSC. I’m anxious to hear the details about how they’ve blown their budget out of proportion. Especially when it’s my understanding that the legislature hasn’t given GPDSC the full funds they were promised EVER. More when I have more info…

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