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EBR Public Defender's office going broke

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BATON ROUGE- There could be no public defenders in Baton Rouge by the summer, an audit released Monday found.

The state may not have enough money to keep the public defender's office handling cases in East Baton Rouge Parish open past June 30th.  Already, public defenders said they're entering a crisis mode. Some have suggested letting accused criminals out of jail without a trial in an effort to save money.

"We've been bare bones for a while now and we're going to be facing a much worse situation next year," public defender Michael Mitchell said in an interview after the audit was released.

According to the report, the EBR public defender's office went over budget by 9% last year. Most money for public defenders comes from traffic tickets, but the office claims there has been a recent decline in the number of tickets issued.

Auditors have suggested either giving more money to the public defender or implementing restrictions to make sure they no longer go over budget.

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