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University of Nebraska Public Policy Center

Lancaster County Indigency Screener Project

An evaluation of a pilot program implemented in Lancaster County (Lincoln), Nebraska, designed to change the way in which a defendant’s claim of indigence is assessed by the legal system. Regardless of whether a jurisdiction uses public defenders or another form of retaining defense counsel for indigent defendants, a determination must be made regarding a defendant’s indigency status. Given the increasing caseloads for court systems and public defender offices and given the interest in ensuring that governmental procedures are optimized for efficiency and fairness, specific counties or even statewide judicial systems may choose to assess, reform, or implement new systems for determining indigence. There are a myriad of interests in assessing indigency determination programs. For instance, these programs have the potential to increase fairness and consistency in indigency appointments, increase the efficiency of the system, and defray costs of the justice system. This evaluation provide courts with evaluation input into this important public function.

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