Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $76,915)
Just as elsewhere across the country, Kansas local/county-level government entities operate from shoestring budgets and have limited to no ability to address the ever-increasing costs of operation. Oftentimes, starting pay and cost-of-living adjustments are negatively impacted as a first line of defense to balance costs to revenue, making the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel a significant challenge. Prosecutor and public defender positions, in particular, experience high rates of turn-over due to low salaries in comparison to the private sector, coupled with high educational debt.
The goal of this project is to recruit and retain qualified prosecutors and public defenders across the State to ensure that communities are protected, laws are upheld, and the rights of the citizens of Kansas are protected. To assist with achieving this goal, activities will focus on the following strategies: 1) utilize Federal John R. Justice (JRJ) funds to provide aid for education debt payments, making positions in public service more attractive to qualified attorneys; 2) determine equitable distribution of JRJ funds among eligible applicants based on least-ability-to-repay, derived from applicants’ annual household income and annual student loan payment; 3) consider geographic distribution of funds across the 31 state judicial districts to the extent practicable; and 4) ensure equal disbursement of funds to public defenders and to prosecutors.