COSTS: Cuts in Georgia Budget May Leave Death Row Inmates Without Representation

Some Georgia death row inmates may soon be without representation for their appeals, potentially delaying the entire death penalty process.  The Georgia Bar Foundation has traditionally provided funds to the Georgia Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center, a twelve-person non-profit organization that represents or assists most of the 90 inmates on Georgia’s death row.  Because of the economic downturn, the Foundation’s collections have declined in recent years and their grant to the Resource Center dropped to zero this year.  The state legislature has also been providing funds to the Center annually, but the recent budget crisis has forced it to cut funding by more than $200,000.  Rob Remar, chairman of the Resource Center’s board, said, “If the Resource Center loses more employees, it will have to take fewer cases, and there will be some inmates who are unrepresented.  The likely outcome is that the system will grind to a halt for those people who don’t have lawyers.”  State Rep. Jay Powell, a Republican from Camilla, who heads a key House budget subcommittee, agreed: “My feeling is we can be penny wise or pound foolish, because if we don’t pay enough on the front end, we’ll pay more in the back end.  If appeals aren’t properly handled, the cases drag on.”

(B. Rankin, "Cuts threaten death row cases," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 1, 2012).  See Costs and Representation.  Read more about the death penalty in Georgia.