Date of Defense

Spring 4-20-1993



First Advisor

Ronald Kramer, Sociology

Second Advisor

Peter Renstrom, Sociology

Third Advisor

Subhash Sonnad, Sociology


Since the landmark Gideon v. Wainright decision, indigent defense has emerged as an important criminal justice issue. Three basic systems have developed to provide counsel to those who cannot afford to retain an attorney. These are: the assigned counsel, public defender, and contract system; all with distinct strengths and weaknesses. The contract system has been an experimental subject for many Michigan counties wishing to maintain low cost indigent defense. however, all of the current contracts have serious shortcomings, and the quality of defense appears to suffer. There are several problems associated with contract systems: insufficient contracts according to professional guidelines, arbitrary screening process to qualify attorneys is arbitrary, witnesses and private investigators are not addressed, there is an absence of caseload controls, and the system is not cost efficient. The objectives of this paper are to: explain what constitutes effective counsel, compare and contrast the three methods of providing indigent defense, analyze contracts of Kalamazoo County, Michigan, and propose a replacement option which improves services while saving taxpayer dollars - an expanded Pretrial Services Program and a public defender office.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only