Funding boost called for Alaska public defenders agency

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Members of Alaska's criminal justice community are urging the legislature to boost funding for the Alaska public defenders agency.

A handful of former judges and attorneys attended a public testimony session over the weekend for the state's operating budget proposal. The public defenders agency says its case load is far too heavy. The agency is asking for an extra $1,000,000 to hire more attorneys.

A former superior court judge told the house finance committee that without proper funding for public defenders, the state's legal system could grind to a halt. "You can't run a criminal justice system when you don't have adequate resources for counsel, either a prosecutor or defense counsel," Eric Sanders said.

House finance committee member, Rep. Jason Grenn, I- Anchorage, says he's optimistic that a solution will be found."I'm confident that we'll be able to find the funds to help that increase because it is vital to the legal system both for victims and defendants."

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