Quantitative evaluation on indigent criminal defense funding.

Author:McKinney, Ralph E.

    The purpose of this paper is to extend the knowledge concerning valuation of indigent defense programs as presented in McKinney and Shao (2008). Using qualitative methods, McKinney and Shao compared different societies through literature to determine how "... basic freedoms to participate within established societies including free will consumption of products and services ..." are valued. The conclusion reached was that "Most indigent defense programs are nonexistent during oppressive government establishments. But, as a society moves towards a free market economy, property protection becomes an essential element of this new free market economy and causes a paradigm shift within a society's government."

    Property rights protection includes access to basic legal representation to protect individual interests against erroneous society allegations and ensure that proper legal procedures and proceedings are followed. While basic rights are essential to free market economies, "... Society wealth and a greater return on investments of public funds can dramatically shift a society's value of basic shared rights ..."

    The contribution of this paper will be a method to analyse financial information concerning indigent defense programs in multiple societies. The new method was termed GDP Indexed Purchasing Power Parity.


    The original paper by McKinney and Shao (2008) provides a detailed analysis of literature surrounding indigent criminal defense ("ICD"). In addition, Smith and DeFrances (1996) note that, over three quarters of U.S. inmates charged with State and municipal offenses had depended on publicly funded ICD programs. Within the United States, ICD programs are crucial components of the criminal justice system (DeFrances & Litras, 2000). Brown (2004) notes ICD programs need adequate funding to operate fairly. However, many public officials have not committed to fully supporting these programs. McKinney and Shao (2008) mentioned that some decisions associated with public funds may be based on economic strategies focusing on returns on investments and benefit recoupment for the greatest number of individuals. Thus, resource allocation and budgets are greatly constrained by actual expenditures which require ICD providers to selectively determine amounts each accused indigent individual will receive (Brown, 2004; McKinney & Shao, 2008). In turn, disparity among individuals may result from decisions about resource allocation and scarcity.

    To illustrate these inequities and resource allocation, DeFrances (2001) used variants of per capita statistics to evaluate selective U.S. States. DeFrances notes Alaska outspent Missouri by fourteen ($14) dollars per capita. While per capita provides a basis of discussion, there are critical flaws concerning this analysis. For example: each State economy can vary drastically in relationship to other States in terms of per capita income, Gross Domestic Product ("GDP"), and purchasing power. These flaws become more definitive when comparing international ICD programs. For a comparative analysis, McKinney and Shao (2008) proposed that a review of temporal uses and allocation of financial resources could be a relative base to understand how societies valued basic shared rights.

    To further examine these values, economic models and theories may be engaged. Elements of the Purchasing Power Parity ("PPP"), the Law of One Price, may be used to convert financial information into a separate numeric expression for each society (Fisher & Park, 1991 ; In & Sugema, 1995; Pedroni, 2001 ; Taylor & Taylor, 2004). By comparing these single expressions, supposed exchange rates become invisible, thus allowing for easy comparison and data transportability. Taylor and Taylor (2004) noted that John Maynard Keynes (1923) cited a problem with PPP was PPP failed to reasonable account for taxes and fees on importation and exportation of products and services. Unlike most goods and services within many economic studies, ICD programs are self-contained: Neither importing nor exporting with consumption limited to an area by geography or jurisdiction. Therefore, this argument is moot.

    With PPP, each society has different values, and in some cases, no substitutive goods exist (Taylor & Taylor, 2004). With ICD, the measurement is the macro values a society places on rights as expressed in economic units. Fisher (2001) mentioned values are determined by the ability to purchase goods and services. As such, currency exchange is necessary only when trade is intended. With ICD programs trade is unnecessary. Hypothetically, exchange rates on ICD programs would not be necessary for comparison. Pedroni (2001) and In and Sugema (1995) reported post-Bretton Woods use of PPP has been difficult to correlate as exchange rates are floating in constant flux. Thus, calculations should be contained to one society prior to analysis. Dryden, Reut, and Slater (1987) used concepts of purchasing power parity to compare financial information without transforming information by market exchange rates. The concept was to evaluate items in relation to GDP. In relation to GDP, many comparisons use per capita figures. As previously mentioned, problems exist with these comparisons. Kravis, Heston, and Summers (1987) noted per capita figures...

To continue reading

Request your trial