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January 22, 2014

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For Jan. 22

(Continued)

Mr. Schellenberger made the answer quite clear to me. When agreeing to restore pay to the Purdue Extension/4-H Educators, but not the Public Defenders, saying as much as it was a no brainer calling it “a quality of life issue.”

All five public defenders could have had their paltry amount of money returned to them, for what the raise of one of the 4-H educators stood to lose in a year. The loss of the 4-H educators raise was two-thirds of a part-time public defender’s entire salary. As the educators pointed out they do things like teach food stamp recipients how to spend their money wisely and diabetics how to eat. These are redundant services, because those things are also taught by the FSA and by any doctor or hospital you may be a patient at; a social service that is again at the taxpayers’ expense.

Mr. Shellenberger seems to believe that being arrested and going to jail is only something that happens to criminals. I would like to inform Mr. Schellenberger that wrongful convictions happen every day. For many, a public defender was their only hope of freedom.

According to Mr. Biggs we are on track to have 3,100-plus felony cases handed over to public defenders in 2014, in Floyd County. That is with a staff that includes him, two full-time and five part-time public defenders. That works out to be 375 felony cases this year for each public defender. These part time public defenders also generally have a private practice as well. Every single person convicted of a felony in Floyd County while represented by a public defender could rightfully appeal based on inadequate counsel. I might remind Mr. Schellenberger that public defenders are not only a “quality of life issue,” they are a Constitutional issue afforded to us by the 8th Amendment.

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