Session: 2023-2024

ACLU-PA Position: Supports

Pennsylvania remains the only state in the nation that fails to provide state-level funding for public defenders. Instead, individual counties must bear 100% of the financial burden to maintain their essential—and constitutionally required—public defense services.

SB 371 (PN 314) would create an Indigent Defense Advisory Committee and a grant fund to support indigent defense. The committee will be responsible for:

  • Managing and awarding funds through the Indigent Defense Grant Program;

  • Proposing minimum standards for the delivery of effective indigent defense and for attorneys providing indigent defense services;
  • Developing appropriate statewide continuing legal education courses;
  • Developing programs for capital case defense skills training;
  • Adopting standards for counties to collect and report data;
  • Developing data requests in conjunction with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission (JCJC); and
  • Preparing a biennial report on any grants that were awarded and data that was collected.

The Indigent Defense Advisory Committee and grant fund language proposed under SB 371 was amended into HB 1300 (pp 169-179), the fiscal code bill.

Governor Shapiro signed HB 1300 into law on December 13, 2023 as Act 34 of 2023.


Senator Lisa Baker





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