Audio: Missouri Public Defender’s Office seeking budget increase

Figure of Justice holding the scales of justice

Missouri’s public defender system is woefully understaffed, according to Mary Fox, Director of the State Public Defender Office. She told a House budget subcommittee last week that some Missouri counties don’t have ANY public defenders:



“Currently in our Kennett, Missouri office, which is down in the Bootheel, we have run out of attorneys. So we have no staff public defenders. We’re trying to see what we can do in terms of contracting out cases, sending folks in from other jurisdictions — but at some point, there’s just not going to be enough attorneys to handle the cases.”

Fox says they’ve contracted private attorneys to help fill the gaps, but it’s not a permanent solution. She told the committee that getting law schools to focus on public interest could help boost the number of graduates interested in working as public defenders.

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