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Public defenders still lag behind prosecutors on payday

Nearly five years after the General Assembly made it possible for localities to help public defenders keep pace with prosecutors, only one Virginia local government provides money to supplement defender salaries, a state official said.

That one community – Alexandria – is among 25 Virginia localities with public defender offices.

By contrast, more than two thirds of Virginia’s 120 commonwealth’s attorneys’ offices received extra money from local governments in the last fiscal year, according to figures reported by The Daily Progress.

The disparity between pay for prosecutors and public defenders makes it tough to keep good lawyers on the job, Charlottesville Public Defender Jim Hingeley said. He has appealed to Charlottesville city leaders for extra money to boost salaries for attorneys in his office.

On average, local prosecutors make 25 percent more than public defenders, he said.

“When you’re handling the same cases with the same defendants in the same courtroom, there should be parity,” Alexandria Public Defender Melinda Douglas told the paper.

One comment

  1. At a time when many localities in the Commonwealth are dealing with budget cuts, something tells me this isn’t going to be seen as a pressing issue. Call it a hunch.

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