The District Assistance Fund
Of its total budget, LPDB has dedicated nearly 50%, or $16,435,314 as supplemental funding support for the individual districts across the state in a program called the District Assistance Fund (DAF). Specifically, the DAF helps to fund the forty-two local Public Defender Offices which serve each of the forty-two Judicial District Courts, the four Juvenile Courts, more than fifty City Courts and numerous specialty courts such as Mental Health Courts, Drug Courts and Child Support Courts.
The DAF is divided among each of the public defender offices based on each district's need for funding assistance in order to provide the necessary legal services to those citizens in need of legal services who cannot afford them. While each district receives funding from local sources such as a portion of local court fees and fines, for example, and also has a required reserve spend-down, these local funds fall short of covering all the costs of operating a local Public Defender Office in nearly every district. The DAF is used to cover these shortfalls after accounting for the fiscal impact of the local funding and reserve spend-downs.
Historically, the DAF monies have been disbursed semi-annually (July and January) based on a mathematical formula applied consistently across the state to determine the total funding (both state and local) that each district needs ideally. Because the system is known to be quite under-funded, these ideal total needs will not likely be met. However, the statewide ideal grand total is calculated and the appropriate portion of that grand total each district needs is also calculated. Regardless of the actual amount allocated for the DAF, each district will receive its appropriate portion of the funds which distributes the statewide under-funding equally and fairly.