State Grant Funds Enables Albany County Public Defender’s Office To Improve Services
February 19, 2014
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced Albany County has been awarded grant funding for the Counsel at First Appearance Project.
The three-year grant of $656,000 has been awarded by the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS), the state agency charged responsible for the administration of County Law Article 18-B, which requires counties to provide legal representation to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The funds will be utilized by the Albany County Public Defender’s office and the Alternate Public Defender’s office, which provide representation to Albany County residents.
"This is good news for Albany County,” said County Executive McCoy. “The state recognizes that if we are to continually improve the quality of these state-mandated services, we need the support to make sure we can offer legal counsel to those who really need it. The county will continue to pursue these streams of funding to ensure that the Public Defender’s Office can function at a high level.”
The statewide grant program helps the counties implement improvements in the delivery of legal services at a defendant’s first appearance before a judge or arraignment. Albany County is one of 25 counties awarded funding. The intent of the grant is to make improvements in the delivery of indigent defense services to a defendant’s first appearance before a judge. The grants will provide effective representation of indigent defendants at their first appearance before a judge and promote their ongoing representation.
In addition to the Counsel at First Appearance Grant, the Public Defender’s Office has tentatively been awarded $299,528 in grant funding as part of the Upstate Quality Improvement and Caseload Reduction program. The grant will enable the county to add an additional lawyer to the staff to manage the growing number of cases handled each year. In the 2012-13 state budget, $4 million in funding was provided to help counties reduce excessive caseloads in public defender’s offices in New York.