With the City’s FY24 Budget Due Next Friday, Public Defenders and Civil Legal Services Providers Call on Mayor Adams to Support Increased Funding to Meet Widespread Staffing and Operational Needs

New York City’s leading public defender and civil legal services organizations called on Mayor Eric Adams to support increased funding in the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget to address insufficient funding levels, wage inequality, and rising costs which jeopardize low-income New Yorkers’ access to critical legal services.

In addition to funding, widespread contracting issues, including late contract registration, delayed payments, and lack of cost-of-living adjustments, have led to organizational instability.

These organizations support the City Council’s proposed $195 million in increased funding this upcoming fiscal year as an initial step in the right direction to address the aforementioned long-standing issues.

Last week, 26 Council Members issued an open letter to Mayor Adams calling for this increase, which was also included in the City Council’s budget response issued this past April.

“New Yorkers facing incarceration, family separation, eviction, deportation, and other serious harms in the legal system deserve zealous representation regardless of their ability to afford an attorney,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services. “As cases head to trial and people’s lives hang in the balance, it is crucial that our clients have experienced attorneys by their side to defend them. However, chronic underfunding contributes to widespread attrition that has put legal services organizations in crisis, and as a result, the people we represent suffer. Mayor Adams and the NYC Council must show that it values the rights and lives of people ensnared in the legal system by prioritizing increased funding for public defense and legal services in the FY 2024 budget.”

Read full press release here.

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