The Hays County Commissioners, after a year of deliberation, planning, and many more years of campaigning by local attorneys, voted to submit a grant application for a holistic public defense program.

The county will submit a $ 1,085,325 grant to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) by May 7 for the Hays County Holistic Public Defense Office (PDO) and Managed Assigned Counsel (MAC) program.

“I would like to thank the many people who worked hard on this grant application and got us to where we are today,” said Debbie Ingalsbe, district commissioner and chair of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. “This is important to so many people and the compassion that many people have for it. I’d like to acknowledge the Texas Neighborhood Defender Services. I really appreciate working with all of you. The holistic program that you bring to the table has really intrigued me and offers many services that so many people are going to need. “

Geoffrey Burkhart, Executive Director of TIDC, attended the meeting and was also recognized for his assistance during the editorial process.

The proposal comes from Neighborhood Defender Services (NDS), a pioneer in holistic defense in the United States, and contains a plan for a holistic PDO and MAC program in Hays County in a new pretrial services division.

The proposal expands pre-trial services into a holistic unit that provides rehabilitation and support services for those released from custody, e.g. B. Resources for living and working, case management, mental health services, support with recovery from addiction and much more.

In the future division, the PDO would house dedicated lawyers for needy defendants, including investigators and support staff, while the Managed Assigned Counsel program would appoint private lawyers, all aware of holistic defense and available support resources.

The proposal says the PDO will represent approximately 30% of crime and 18% of misdemeanors in Hays County annually. The district assumes that in 50% of these cases the PDO will provide specialized representation for mental or behavioral health.

The MAC will serve as a resource for court-appointed private attorneys who are present in Hays County and who are not PDO attorneys. The MAC will assign 70% of crime cases and 82% of misdemeanor cases to court-appointed lawyers.

Local advocacy group Mano Amiga has been advocating a non-prosperity approach to imprisonment and bail in court for three years. They calculated that 81% of Hays County’s prison inmates were on remand as of April, which means they could be accused, not convicted of crime, and bailed out.

“When I did the math and found that 81% of our prison meant almost four hundred people, my stomach sank,” said Sam Benavides, Mano Amiga’s campaign colleague. “That’s four hundred people – from our community members – who are caged just because they can’t buy their freedom.”

The grant will fund the first year of the program and a season for the following three years. The standard multiannual improvement grant fund pays up to 80% of the total project cost in the first year. 60% in the second year; 40% in the third year; and 20% in the fourth year. The total cost of the project is $ 2.256 million and requires a county matching of $ 451,000.

The next step after the grant is submitted is a vote by the board of directors of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, scheduled for June 17th.

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