The number of people who turned to public defenders to represent them in court skyrocketed last year, jumping 53 percent from the year before. While Madison County prosecutors filed just 120 more felonies in 2009 than in 2008, those seeking public defenders jumped from 1,283 in 2008 to 1,968 in 2009.
The reason, says Madison County Public Defender John Rekowski, is hardly surprising. “Can you say ‘economy’?”
In healthier economic times, defendants seek out private attorneys more often. To pay for them, they have frequently turned to family members to give them an advance. “What we saw was that grandma and grandpa said ‘We may need that money ourselves this year,’” Rekowski said.
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