Missouri public defenders seek more money from lawmakers

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Missouri public defender system says Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposal to restore some of its budget cuts still won’t cover all of its costs for defending people too poor to afford a private attorney.

The director of the public defender’s office, Michael Barrett, asked the House Budget Committee on Monday for more money to hire staff attorneys, increase pay, and contract out on cases when public defenders would have to travel outside their primary jurisdictions.

This year’s budget included a $4.5 million increase for the public defenders system. Former Gov. Jay Nixon cut $3.5 million of that to help balance the state budget.

Greitens has recommended restoring $2.5 million of that cut in the 2018 budget.

Barrett said that won’t entirely alleviate the high caseloads among public defenders.

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