According to the Louisiana Public Defender’s Office, the state spent $7.7 million on the legal representation of defendants in death penalty cases just in 2022. That total does not include the costs of prosecutors, judges, and other criminal justice personnel. The state has not carried out an execution in 13 years and has had only one execution in the past 21 years. State officials have attributed the most recent execution delays to difficulties obtaining the drugs needed for lethal injection and has stopped setting execution dates.

The expenses outlined by the Defender’s Office involved the cost of initial trials, appeals, and post-conviction legal challenges, including the cost of expert witnesses. Despite there being only 18 open capital cases and two appeals in 2022, State Public Defender Rémy Voisin Starns explained that his office also represents about two-thirds of the state’s death row, which consists of 62 people.

While officials and jurisdictions are requesting more funds for public defender services, the revenue from traffic court fees, which is one of the main sources of funding for public defenders, has sharply decreased. The number of traffic court filings fell from 1.26 million in 2009 to 475,335 in 2021.