Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $482,980)
The 2007 Census of Public Defender Offices (CPDO) involves the collection of data from all state- and county-funded public defender offices across the country, including offices that are publicly funded but privately operated and offices that handle capital cases only. A variety of data elements are collected in this survey including office expenditures, number and types of cases handled, staffing, funding sources, use of technology, special units operated, and utilization of outside legal services, such as contract attorneys and assigned counsel appointments. Previous studies, including the 1986 Criminal Defense System Study and the 1999 National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems (NSIDS), gathered information about the number and characteristics of public indigent defense systems. The data from these surveys have been used to generate several Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) bulletins and special reports examining indigent defense in criminal cases, indigent defense services in large counties, and state funded defense services. Because the 1999 NSIDS revealed that public defender offices handle a substantially greater portion of indigent defense cases than do assigned counsel or contract attorneys, the 2007 CPDO will focus specifically on publicly funded public defender offices. The updated data collection effort will be expanded to include all such offices in operation across the country in order to provide a clearer, more current picture of the varied and changing nature of the provision of indigent defense in the United States. The 2007 CPDO will serve as an important source of information on the overall conditions of public defender offices and the changes that have occurred in these offices since the late 1990s. The data collected from this survey will be used to produce several BJS reports on indigent defense, and should be widely used by public defenders, other legal practitioners, policymakers, scholars, and the media.