COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State Rep. David Leland’s bill to help attract more public defenders has passed the Ohio house.
In a news release, Leland’s office announced the passing of House Bill 5. It creates the Ohio Public Defender State Loan Repayment Program.
“This bill will not only help provide every Ohioan the representation they deserve, but it will also help alleviate the tremendous burden of student debt,” Leland said in the release. “HB 5 keeps the Ohio Promise of making sure the best and brightest students stay right here in Ohio.”
The program allows up to $85,000 in tuition assistance for five years of service. Leland’s office said 70 percent of all defendants facing jail time cannot afford legal representation.
“Ohio’s public defenders are currently overwhelmed by an enormous caseload. That translates into potentially unnecessary jail time, unwise plea agreements, and even wrongful conviction—a clear lack of justice,” added Leland.
The bill now heads to the state senate for review and a vote.