Raises for Prosecutors and Defenders, or More Pork for Other Projects?


Western Justice points out that the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2008 has been signed into law. I’m sure I’ve missed hoopla about this elsewhere, since there was lots of hoopla about it last May. Now that I have more than six readers, I’ll ask again the two multiple-choice questions that I asked then:

1. The people who decide where the money is spent in your jurisdiction know that the federal government is going to give every public defender a $12,000 annual subsidy. Do they a) raise defenders’ salaries nonetheless; b) keep defenders’ salaries where they are; or c) lower defenders’ salaries by $11,999, figuring that defenders were paid enough before and should be happy with a net $1 raise?
2. Having cut defenders’ salaries by $11,999, do the people who decide where public money is spent in your jurisdiction use it a) to feed the hungry and house the homeless; b) on hookers and crack for the monthly county commissioners’ retreat; or c) to buy AR-15s for the SWAT team and build a new jail, in order to prove their tough-on-crime credentials?

Almost anywhere in America, the correct answers are “c” and “c.” If you live in one of the exceptions, I’d love to know where it is.

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0 responses to “Raises for Prosecutors and Defenders, or More Pork for Other Projects?”

  1. More than six readers? Sorry, Mark. I’ve been posting under three names, dude. You only have four, and one of them is your dad.

    Kidding, kidding.

    Mark. I am your father.

  2. Thanks. I’m never really gone you know. Just out slaying victimizers is all. Well, ‘slaying’ is a metaphor, you know. No one has actually died by my hand that I know of, so far anyway.

    And I am you father. Stop kissing your sister. What are you anyway, a defense lawyer? Sheesh.

    On another note – the judges are sending out the approval letters for the defense lawyer appointment lists. May turn out to be moo, but you should look into how many prosecutors took the test (just to be safe – got to eat you know), and how many passed, and how many got to take court appointments. If there is a P.D.’s office in the works, I guess the appointment list will be moo too. Kinda.

    And yes. I said “moo.” Like a cow’s opinion. But, just in case . . . .

  3. Colin, good question. Tax money spent on PDs has, if not a net liberating effect, then at least less government-empowering effect than any other government project. Am I making sense? The government infringes on our freedom by extracting money from us (with the threat, ultimately, that it will use deadly force against us if we don’t comply); spending this money on indigent defense mitigates the infringement somewhat.

  4. but spending money on indigent defense comes at the same time as spending money on the DAs office, right? Isn’t that just an inefficient exercise in escalation? or is the state of indigent defense so poor that a dollar spent there goes that much further than a dollar spent on prosecutions?

    still, PDs and ADAs already have jobs, and what would they do with themselves if they couldn’t be indignant about not getting paid enough? I assumed that was part of why they signed on.

    you also have to consider the mediocre uses that the feds are going to put the money to. if they were going to do something truly useless, and instead the money goes to your local area where it’s used for something equally useless but local, isn’t that a wash for the nation but a win for houston? curious also that you find fault with an action that further impoverishes the feds, who you so gleefully fight against. I’m just having fun though. that, or i’m bored stiff waiting for school to start. keep up the good work.

  5. From my humanist perspective; it would be inefficient to spend more money on one or the other. There is nothing inherently wrong with prosecuting those who commit crimes (although we can argue the justness of specific laws), but I think there is something inherently wrong with a system that does not protect its citizens with the same zeal as it prosecutes them.

    All things being equal, PDs offices should probably be better funded given the totality of resources that are at the disposal of the DA’s office. Obviously that is a pipe dream given how fear permeates our society.

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