Public Defenders Office warns of furloughs in 2016

Public Defenders Office warns of furloughs in 2016

(WVUE) - The Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office said budget shortfalls mean employees will face furloughs, and defendants will stay in jail longer.

The office said public defenders will not be available for two days a month beginning in February of 2016. The exact dates of the furlough are as follows: February 12 and 29, March 7 and 21, April 4 and 18, May 2 and 16, and June 6 and 20.

No public defenders will be available in any court during those days. In addition, Orleans public defenders will stop attending first court appearances.

In the announcement, chief defender Derwyn Bunton said he has been warning for some time that there's not enough money to operate at full capacity, and because cases will move slower through the courts, he said the City of New Orleans could spend an extra $113,000 because jail stays will be extended.

If adequate funding becomes available, Bunton said staff will return to full court coverage.

The OPD represents nearly 85 percent of all defendants in Orleans Parish.

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