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Idaho budget writers fund public defense reform

Idaho budget writers fund public defense reform
Posted at 12:14 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 20:01:47-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho budget writers have approved funneling $5.5 million to reform how the state provides legal representation to those who can't afford their own attorney.

The move marks the first time the Idaho Legislature has taken significant action toward reforming Idaho's public defense system after facing warnings for years the current structure is unconstitutional.

Members on the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee unanimously agreed on Thursday to fund allowing the Public Defense Commission to create new standards for indigent defense service and implement a grant application process for counties to offset the cost of complying with the stricter criteria.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho is currently appealing a decision to dismiss their class-action lawsuit that described the state's current system as unconstitutional.