Published on: Monday, March 25, 2024

Federal public defenders would avoid the most dire budget scenarios under the fiscal 2024 funding package unveiled Thursday, with Congress set to spend tens of millions of dollars more than previous proposals from the House and Senate (press release available here).

Federal defenders, which are tasked with representing poor defendants, have said the hiring freeze stretched their resources and left them at the mercy of natural staff attrition.

“Six months ago, it looked like federal defender offices across the country were going to 10% personnel cuts. That’s very painful cuts, and really was going to affect the quality of representation,” said Senator Peter Welch, the Senate’s only former Public Defender.  

Defender Services will now resume hiring after a more than an eight-month pause — a move that started last July amid uncertainty about fiscal 2024 funding.

Elizabeth Brown Luck is Chief of Defender Services.