Bump Would Audit Publicly Funded Criminal Defense System
By: Bump Campaign On: 11:02AM / Wednesday October 20, 2010
QUINCY, Mass. — Suzanne Bump, Democratic nominee for state auditor, said she would conduct a thorough audit of the performance of the Committee for Public Counsel Service and the Bar Advocate programs.
“The state’s district attorneys have raised an important issue. There may be a problem with the way the public’s money is being spent on criminal defense,” said Bump in a statement issued Oct. 14. “Defendants have rights, but taxpayers do too, and they shouldn’t be abused.”
The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association issued a statement last week pointing out that defense counsel budgets have received substantial increases year after year while the district attorneys have not received comparable resources. One of their proposed solutions is to increase the DAs' budgets. Supporters of defense counsel have countered that their compensation is appropriate.
“So far, this debate has generated a lot of angry words and several ideas about how the state can spend more money in this area,” said Bump. “It has not generated any ideas or proposals about how we can deliver these services more effectively and save the taxpayers’ money. There is a natural role here for the state auditor,” she said.
“I’ve talked about performance audits since I started this campaign. The issue raised by the District Attorneys perfectly illustrates my point,” Bump continued. “As state auditor I will look at the way we spend taxpayer dollars to provide constitutionally required counsel to criminal defendants, determine whether the system is being abused, and identify changes to be made to save taxpayers money and deliver better services.”
“Through a thorough performance audit we can discover why the budget for defense counsel rises astronomically every year while the crime rate has remained essentially flat. If caseloads are the same, then why do defense costs keep increasing?” Bump asked.
Bump outlined some possible solutions, including reducing reliance on private attorneys in favor of having more public defenders, building better controls into the programs to ensure that attorneys are billing their cases consistent with reasonable defense practices, and exploring ways of resolving cases without excessive and costly litigation while protecting public safety.
“We need to get to the proper resolution of cases in the most cost-effective manner,” said Bump. “When we do that, we will save money for taxpayers and free up the resources to invest in programs that reduce crime and enhance public safety.”
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
You have no idea of what you are talking about. Bar Advocates work just as hard as the District Attorney's Office and bear the brunt of expenses and working hours for free. As a read this ridiculous article, my husband is working and by the way it is 10:55 p.m.! Bar Advocates are dedicated and generous. My husband takes calls at home at all hours of the night and does not bill for them. He goes to the jail and visits his clients and uses gas and does not charge for it. He works hard for the little money he is paid!! He has been doing this for 17 years and works very hard and I think that the District Attorney is not winning cases and is looking for EXCUSES for his and his department's failures. I certainly hope that you do not get elected!!
North Adams: Candidate forums are being broadcast live by WNAW at 8:30 a.m. daily Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 except Wednesday, when mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and challenger Robet Moulton debate live from 9 to 10.
Meet the candidates at the Elks Lodge breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 3.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.
Absentee ballots are available at city clerk offices until noon on Nov. 4.
Voter registration: The deadline to register or change in voter information for the November election is Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The North Adams city clerk's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.