In the final installment of my blog series outlining my 3-step plan, I will explain the ways I will expand the social services offered by the Public Defender’s office.
Step 3: I will advocate for more defendants to have access to social workers and social services to help them turn their lives around and become productive citizens that benefit Knox County.
I believe all clients of the Public Defender’s office deserve access to social services and will strive to provide that access by first ensuring efficient use of the office’s staff and reaching out to volunteer organizations and others that offer free services. Funding may be required for additional social workers, which I will first attempt to gain through grants and through the State, however, more funding from the County may be necessary. Any money from the County would be an investment in its future and would result in overall savings. In fact, an analysis of the effectiveness of the holistic approach has shown that its use in a fraction of misdemeanor cases alone has saved taxpayers $1.7 million a year.
Another issue I would address would be that of impoverished defendants who are unable to access the Public Defender’s office because of legal conflicts of interest in their cases. While these defendants are appointed qualified attorneys in private practice to represent them, their attorneys lack access to the social workers and other resources that the Public Defender’s office has. I will advocate for these defendants by seeking to waive conflicts of interest when possible, and by creating a way for certain staff to represent non-clients without creating such conflicts. The holistic approach works for everyone and should not be denied to defendants simply because they have a legal conflict of interest with the Public Defender’s office. As your Public Defender, I will strive to expand these vital resources and services for all who need them.
To make comments, read more about my 3-step plan, or learn more about me, please visit and like my Facebook page. Early voting is July 17 – August 1, and election day is August 6, so please remember to get out and vote! Also, this year most voters qualify to vote by mail as long as they request a mail-in ballot by July 30 and postmark their ballot no later than August 6.