County judges haven’t changed the way they select public defenders for decades. Some board members say putting the service out to bid could be more cost effective than the current system. Peoria County Board Member Steven Morris says he supports drafting specifics to eventually bid it out:
“We all have this feeling that it’s been a great cost savings to the county for many years, but one’s ever done any analysis in the last 25 years to confirm, yes, it’s still cost effective,” Morris says.
A county committee unanimously approved sending a measure to the full board to only extend next year's public defender contract through April. Morris says that would give officials time to review the public defender program in-depth and make changes if necessary. Next year's annual public defender contract is for nearly $1.5 million.