State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) announced today the introduction of Senate Bill 139 which seeks to reform Ohio’s indigent defense system. Under the current system, each of Ohio's 88 counties operates its own indigent defense system, which has created vast discrepancies in the quality, efficiency and cost of representation.
Senator Uecker’s proposal seeks to ease the financial burden placed on county governments while creating a more concise and cost efficient system. Senate Bill 139 transfers financial responsibility for indigent defense from the counties to the state over the course of six years, first by increasing the state's share to 50%, then gradually increasing by 10% each year until the state is 100% responsible. The State Public Defender also has the authority to approve county indigent defense systems and to establish the rates paid to private counsel assigned to represent defendants.
"Ohio's current indigent defense system lacks uniformity, which costs the taxpayers additional financial burden," said Uecker. "My mission has always been to support a responsible, accountable, and efficient government and this bill is another contribution to that goal. Creating a unified administration to administer and oversee the indigent defense system will allow us to be better stewards of Ohioans hard-earned tax dollars."
Senate Bill 139 will now be assigned to a committee for further consideration and vetting by the General Assembly.