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Senators skeptical of funding Odyssey access for public defenders

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Senate budget writers appeared skeptical of a request Thursday to spend more than $2.1 million over the next four years to give public defenders statewide the same access to case management systems that prosecutors, judges and others have in many counties.

Indiana Public Defender Council Director Larry Landis asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for funding that to date has been provided through an $800,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Agency to develop a Public Defender Information System. That system, being tested in some trial counties, would ultimately serve as a bridge to the Odyssey case management system and other systems in non-Odyssey counties.

Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, noted to Landis that House budget writers had nixed the request. Kenley said the proposal had been made late in the budget process and other senators said there were less costly options.

Landis’ proposal included $844,200 in FY 2014, $544,800 the following budget year, and $367,500 in each of the two successive fiscal years.

“We’re really doing it for the county public defender offices,” Landis said after the hearing. He said in many cases defenders have no access to online case management systems and must journey to the courthouse and local offices to gather information about the cases they’re assigned.
 
Odyssey, he said, initially was designed without a public defender component. “We’re building a complete information management system,” he said.

Meanwhile, Landis said the budget request for the IPDC will remain flat at about $1.3 million in the next budget year.


 

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