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Improving Indigent Defense in Texas

Indigent defense is broken in Texas—and throughout the United States—and it has been broken for decades. Excessive caseloads and conflicts of interest are two of the most significant problems behind the notoriously poor quality of indigent defense services. Texas can address these problems through at least five changes to the state criminal justice system: reclassifying several offenses so that they do not trigger the right to counsel, increasing diversion to problem-solving courts, expanding the use of victim-offender conferencing, encouraging “open file” discovery systems, and providing vouchers to indigents for the selection of counsel.