Your Aug. 9 editorial “Courts, Probation must do more to curb public-defense costs” highlights the need for effective verification of financial resources for criminal defendants who seek representation by defense attorneys paid with public funds.
Improving indigency verification work performed by probation officers has been a high priority since I was appointed to lead the Office of Probation in January 2011.
Since then, significant measures have been taken to improve the financial verification process, such as electronic data sharing and increased coordination with the departments of revenue and transitional assistance and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, use of updated verification forms, educational training, performance audits, statistical tracking, and increased management oversight.
Recent court decisions have also added new legal requirements to strengthen the system.
Probation officers are deeply committed to verifying financial information provided by defendants and helping those individuals who are truly indigent to become eligible to receive public legal assistance.