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Publication State-Administered Indigent Defense Systems, 2013

Suzanne M. Strong, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics

November 16, 2016    NCJ 250249

Describes the methods for providing representation in criminal defense and civil, juvenile, and appeals cases in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The report details various aspects of indigent defense delivery systems by jurisdiction, such as type of litigating attorneys, cases closed, caseload standards and guidelines, funding sources, fees for representation, how indigence is determined, role of advisory boards or commission, and standards for assigned or appointed counsel. Data are from the 2013 National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems, the first census of all methods of providing indigent defense services in the United States.


  • Of the 28 states and the District of Columbia that had state-administered indigent defense systems in 2013-
    - Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia had either governmental or nongovernmental public defenders providing representation for indigent clients.
    - Eight states and the District of Columbia required indigent clients to pay both an application fee to receive representation and recoupment for legal services provided.
    - In nine states the governor appointed the chief executives of the indigent defense delivery system.
    - Six states reported fewer than 10 full-time equivalent investigators on staff for public defender offices.
  • Between 2007 and 2013, 16 of the 22 states with state-administered public defender offices increased the number of full-time equivalent litigating attorneys.
  • In 2013, state-administered systems closed an estimated 2,696,950 criminal, appellate, civil, and juvenile cases.

Summary (PDF 244K)
Full report (PDF 958K)
ASCII file (31K)
Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 31K)

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About the Source Data
National Survey Of Indigent Defense Systems (NSIDS), 2013

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