State public defender seeks funding boost, warns of cuts

Missouri’s top public defender has been seeking more money for his office for years, to no avail. Now, he says it’s crucial: Outposts around the state may have to close.

For the coming fiscal year, Michael Barrett asked for $67 million — an increase over the current state allocation of $41 million. But Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget only allots $40 million for next year.

Barrett presented his office’s budget to House Budget Committee Monday.

Barrett says the number of cases handled by the State Public Defender’s office has increased 12 percent since 2014, from 74,000 to about 82,000.

Barret said extra funding could allow his office to hire private attorneys and enable public defenders to have lighter caseloads and less travel time.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio, Missourinet

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