Doug Wilson, State Public Defender, briefed the committee under the SMART Government Act and Joint Rule 25. He gave opening comments and a short overview of the office, including statutory requirements, and distributed a related packet (Attachment E). Mr. Clark reported on the number of offices and trial attorneys across the state. Mr. Wilson also discussed the 5 percent budget request increase in response to workload and case filings.
A document comparing budgets and salaries between the State Public Defender Trial Offices and the District Attorney's Office was distributed (Attachment F). Mr. Wilson explained that the Public Defender's Office is understaffed compared to the District Attorney's Office and operates on a smaller budget as well.
Mr. Wilson answered questions from the committee about staffing discrepancies and the impact on workload as a result of increased felony filings, especially relating to drugs and assault.
The committee discussed alternative dispositions, diversion, treatment, social workers for juveniles, and restorative justice. Mr. Wilson reported that staffing is low for diversionary tactics.
Maureen Cain, representing the Colorado State Public Defender's Office, joined Mr. Wilson at the table and distributed a handout regarding filing statistics (Attachment G). She noted the increase in drug filings and reported that filings in general are outpacing population growth and the crime rate. The committee and representatives from the Public Deferder's Office discussed possible reasons for this.