Harrisburg, PA– Senator Vincent Hughes, Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair, announced over $250,000 for indigent defense services for both Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. The money was awarded from the first-time state grant fund that was established last year as a result of bipartisan legislation led by Senator Hughes and Senator Lisa Baker.
In addition to the first-time state funding, the indigent defense legislation also established the Indigent Defense Advisory Committee (IDAC) to improve the quality and effectiveness of indigent defense counsel in the Commonwealth.
“With this new money and the IDAC, indigent defense in Pennsylvania will no longer be an afterthought in our criminal justice system,” said Senator Hughes. “I’m proud to see these funds finally reach our public defenders and become available to start fixing staffing and resource issues that have plagued our indigent defense systems for too long.”
As of 2021, over half of criminal cases in Pennsylvania utilized a public defender, yet the Commonwealth ranks 45th in total indigent defense funding. Until last year, Pennsylvania was only one of two states that did not allocate state funding toward indigent defense.
In total, over $6.6M was approved for indigent defense services across the Commonwealth. Governor Shapiro has proposed $10 million dollars for indigent defense in the 24-25 budget.
Senator Hughes explained, “I’m committed to fighting for more and sustained funding for Pennsylvania indigent defense. Lawmakers and the legal community will need to work together to fulfill the promise of liberty and justice for all citizens of our Commonwealth. There is no justice without equal justice.”