Bexar County’s Indigent Defense System gets mixed reviews

Report gives high marks for rapid magistration; concludes not all defendants treated equally

SAN ANTONIO – A 69-page report evaluating Bexar County’s Indigent Defense System was released Wednesday.

The study, which was conducted by Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute last month, applauded the county’s rapid magistrate system and the creation of nearly a dozen specialty courts.

“These are courts that will address the problem that brought you into the criminal justice system,” Chief Public Defender Michael Young said.

But Young said the report shows that not everyone is treated fairly.

“This report shows us that we’re not doing a good enough job, that we’re treating people differently," Young said. “That if you have money and can afford an attorney, you’re going to get better results."

The report recommended the creation of a Manager Assisted Council program, which Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel has been advocating.

“It makes attorneys more accessible, increases training and mentorship opportunities for lawyers”, Rangel said.

Though the report suggests there is room for improvement, Rangel said the consensus is positive among those in the system.

“I think the takeaway is that we have done a great job in dealing with our Indigent Defense Plan," he said.

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