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Teach for America can offer loan forgiveness through federal programs to participants who support society by teaching in schools where their help is needed. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice has set aside funds to do something similar for those hardworking attorneys in the nation's DA and PD offices. Announced on Friday, September 17, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) will allocate almost $10 million to support federal and state public defenders and state and local prosecutors.
According to CNBC, the funding has become available under the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act. For the first time under the act, funds will be given out in all 49 states and the District. The money will provide loan repayment assistance for attorneys working in prosecutors and defenders offices and who agree to remain in their positions as for a minimum of three years.
The funding will be allocated based on a formula which will set aside a minimum base amount which can be supplemented by additional funds in proportion to the state's percentage of the national population. In each state, an agency will be designated to administer the funds of the John R. Justice program.
"The John R. Justice program will strengthen our justice systems by helping to recruit and keep well qualified and high-functioning prosecutors and public defenders in civil service, where these systems and the communities they serve can benefit from their continued service," Jim Burch, Acting Director for OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance, told CNBC.
The overworked underpaid PD is a archetype among lawyers, and also according to the stats complied to assist the John R. Justice program, a fact. CNBC writes that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 1,000 public defender offices in 49 states and the District received nearly 5.6 million cases and employed over 15,000 attorneys in 2007. The Bureau examined the public defender office caseloads and found that the majority of offices exceeded the maximum recommended number of cases per attorney.
To all those that work for the public interest on either side of the courtroom, this program will hopefully provide some well deserved and hard earned help. We thank you.