Issue: Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act
Legislation enacted in the 110th Congress provides financial incentives to encourage more attorneys to work as prosecutors/public defenders [both criminal and juvenile justice] or civil legal aid attorneys.
Court leaders have consistently supported such incentives for attorneys in public service.
Pub. Law 110-315 encourages qualified individuals to enter and continue employment as criminal or juvenile justice prosecutors, public defenders, or civil legal aid attorneys by establishing procedures whereby the student loan debt of these service providers could be lessened over time. Eligible applicants must sign an agreement committing to remain employed as such public service for not less than 3 years. For each year of service, the applicant’s student loans would be paid by the US government at a rate of no more than $10,000/year for a maximum of $60,000 for all years of employment as a prosecutor or public defender; or for no more than $6,000/year for a maximum of $40,000 for all years of employment as a civil legal aid lawyer.
In enacting Pub. Law 110-315, the Congress authorized an annual appropriation of $25 million for FY 2009 for criminal and juvenile justice service and $10 million for FY 2009 for civil legal aid. Thereafter it authorized “such sums as may be necessary for each of the five succeeding fiscal years.” As with other new federal programs, the assistance to public service law grads contained in the new law lacks an appropriation of authorized funds.