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NCJ Number: 92982 Find in a Library
Title: Assigned Counsel Versus Public Defender Systems in Virginia - A Comparison of Relative Benefits
Journal: Sage Criminal Justice System Annals  Volume:18  Dated:(1983)  Pages:127-150
Author(s): L J Cohen; P P Semple; R E Crew
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using quantitative data from official records and qualitative data from interviews with legal actors in the jurisdictions visited, this study compares the cost-effectiveness of defense services in four Virginia public-defender jurisdictions compared with four assigned-counsel jurisdictions.
Abstract: Each of the public-defender jurisdictions was matched with an assigned-counsel jurisdiction according to socioeconomic, demographic, and criminogenic criteria. The pooled jurisdictional data, the focus of this analysis, were well matched. The first part of the study report describes the principal differences in the two representation systems as they are experienced at the sites, including structural characteristics, legal-actor perceptions, and case processing and outcomes. Conclusions are then drawn. The study found that the public defender systems do cost less per case than their assigned counsel counterparts, but the findings are mixed regarding the quality of representation provided under the two systems. Public defender cases are associated with pleas of guilty more often than the assigned counsel cases; public defender cases are dismissed more often and end in findings of guilt less often; there are not discernible differences in the severity of sentences; and public defender cases take longer in processing than do assigned counsel cases. Legal actors participating in the criminal justice system are inclined to favor the public defender method. Defendants also tend to favor this system. Overall, the results suggest a preference for the public defender method of indigent criminal representation in Virginia. This preference is consistent with the literature on indigent representation generally. Tabular data and 14 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Court appointed counsel; Public defenders; Virginia
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