Did you know that Wyandotte County, Kansas has no public defenders office?  But, the State Board of Indigent Defense Services is meeting Saturday, January 22 to hear from residents.  And, you can provide written testimony, using this form, to voice your support for a public defenders office. 

Not sure what to write about? Here are some talking points from our issue packet.  

The current system takes too long to appoint attorneys. A public defenders office would act with greater speed. In a review of 125 cases where the court appointed an attorney in 2020, it took district courts an average 16.23 days to appoint an attorney. The majority of these defendants were in custody while waiting for a court appointment. By contrast, Shawnee County's public defender system assigns an attorney from the public defenders office at first appearance if requested, and the attorney is required to meet with the client within 72 hours of the appointment.

The current system often provides inadequate representation. Of the previously mentioned 125 cases reviewed from 2020, while some attorneys provide quality representation, there are troubling numbers. In 22 cases, the court appointed attorney failed to even request to see the evidence in the case. In 98, the court appointed attorney made no request to reduce bond. Especially concerning are the cases of presumptive probation, those cases where the crime charged is low level, and if sentenced the defendant is presumed to receive a sentence of probation. Even in these cases of low level crime, court appointed attorney submitted written requests for bond reductions in only 10 out of 80 cases (12.5%).

The current system leaves many waiting in jail unnecessarily. In the same 125 cases, the data shows courts kept the accused in jail unnecessarily for extended periods of time. Not only does this have a destabilizing impact on the family of the accused (losing employment, income, housing, etc.) but occurs at significant expense to local taxpayers. 

Download our issue packet

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