More progress in Washington (state)

Imagine this: A bid to revamp public defense receives bipartisan support.

Washington state, of course is a pathetic laggard when it comes to indigent defense. King county, has a fantastic office, but things are not so great around much of the rest of the state. Nationally, states pay an average of 50 percent of public-defense costs, with local governments picking up the other half. In Washington, the state pays 5.5 percent — and that percentage is attributable almost entirely to the fact that the state pays for indigent appeals.

The bill now before legislators calls for the state to help pay public-defense costs — and to condition funding on local governments adopting such measures as restricting public-defender caseloads and providing them with training.

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