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Shapiro-Davis Administration Approves $32 Million in Funding for Indigent Defense Services, Alternatives to Incarceration, and Crime Victim Support

by Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency

Photo courtesy of Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Davis, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency approved first-ever state grants for indigent defense — less than six months after Governor Shapiro signed the historic funding into law.

On Wednesday, June 12, members of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) took action to approve $32 million in a variety of grants to improve local indigent defense services, provide alternatives to incarceration for individuals with substance use disorders, and support victims of crime.

The grant funding approved today includes the first-ever state grants for indigent defense, as proposed by Governor Shapiro and included in the 2023-24 state budget. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Davis, PCCD expedited the process to drive out indigent defense resources and counties will begin to receive funding beginning July 1, 2024 — just six months after the dollars were approved by the State Legislature.

Governor Shapiro promised to improve Pennsylvania’s standing as one of only two states in the country that did not provide state funding for indigent defense services, which provide legal representation to individuals who cannot afford it. Last year, the Governor delivered on that promise by securing $7.5 million in the 2023-24 budget.

Of the $7.5 million, $6.75 million was made available for formula-based grants to counties through the Indigent Defense Grant Program, with 10 percent allocated to PCCD for administrative use. The 2024-25 state budget proposes a $2.5 million increase for indigent defense funding — a total of $10 million to be funded through PCCD.

“Last year, we came together to allocate sustainable funding to help meet the needs of public defenders and the defendants who rely on them. My Administration is now putting those dollars to work – working with our county partners to ensure these resources for public defense are utilized in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “We need to do more to build equity in our criminal justice system, and a critical piece of that is sustained, dedicated funding for public defenders. That’s why I’ve proposed investing another $10 million in our public defenders this year to ensure that everyone has a fair shot and both sides have an adequate opportunity to present a strong case in court.”

“Less than six months after legislation was signed providing historic funding for Indigent defense, funds are now approved to expand the quality of services across our state,” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, PCCD chair. “This is no small feat. I applaud the counties who worked diligently to submit their applications, and I look forward to the work that will be done across the Commonwealth to improve the quality of indigent defense services that all Pennsylvanians have the right to receive.”

The goal of the new grant program is to improve the capacity and effectiveness of indigent defense services in Pennsylvania through efforts to recruit and retain staff, improve data collection and reporting capacity, obtain the necessary training, professional development, and technical assistance, and fill any other gaps identified by the county, in consultation with indigent defense service providers. Counties will be able to utilize the funding beginning July 1, 2024.

The Commission also approved $16.5 million in grant funding to 63 counties for Intermediate Punishment (IP) Treatment Programs. These programs aim to divert individuals from county jail or state prison and provide the necessary treatment for individuals with substance use disorder and mental health conditions, thereby reducing recidivism and increasing public safety. Last fiscal year, 22,457 individuals actively participated in IP with 88 percent of individuals successfully completing their program.

Additionally, the Commission approved more than $6.6 million in state and federal grant funding to boost prevention programs for youth to reduce violence and substance use and to support child victims of abuse and sexual abuse, through Children’s Advocacy Centers, and assist other victims of crime across Pennsylvania.

More information about the actions approved at the Commission meeting is available on PCCD’s website.

The post Shapiro-Davis Administration Approves $32 Million in Funding for Indigent Defense Services, Alternatives to Incarceration, and Crime Victim Support appeared first on BCTV.

Source: bctv

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