Public Defender Director says agency is underfunded and understaffed
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Public Defender Director says agency is underfunded and understaffed

Date: February 3, 2014
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau

There are almost 4-thousand juveniles in Missouri who are going without legal representation, according to a state legal agency.
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Wrap: The director of the Missouri Public Defender System Cat Kelly testified before a House funding committee Monday and pressed lawmakers for more money so public defenders can sufficiently represent children and teens.

Kelly explained why she thinks a good public defender is essential.

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Description: I do strongly believe that a strong defense is the difference between living in a police state where an accusation is enough to lock somebody up and living in a just system that I think all of us want to.

Kelly says sometimes, juveniles can wave their right to council, and some committee members questioned if that should even be allowed.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony.

The Missouri Public Defender System Director says they need for more funding to alleviate their growing workload.
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Wrap: Director Cat Kelly implored lawmakers to give her agency more money so the public defenders don't have to work on so many cases at once.

Kelly outlined the agency's current situation to lawmakers.

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Description: We have way more cases than we have lawyers to handle them and as a result, shortcuts happen. They have to.

Kelly told lawmakers they could do three things to help the agency.

They are add more lawyers, contract cases out, and add more funding.

She also said Gov. Nixon withheld $700,000 in 2013 and $1.13 million in 2014 from the System.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony.

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