Peoria County Board looks to make public defender contracts more transparent

By WEEK Producer

April 22, 2014 Updated Apr 22, 2014 at 9:57 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A committee of the Peoria County Board has approved what they believe will make contracts with the future public defender more transparent.

Last year, County Board members looked into the $1.5 million contract with then Public Defender Tom Penn.

In the process, they found few records to show services he provided, like caseload and assistant public defender assignments.

Illinois law states the public defender in counties with more than a million people are required to keep record of his services and give the County Board a monthly report which didn't always happen.

"Historically, there's been a bit of a hands off approach but we're still accountable for the budgeting process we do every year," said Board Member Andrew Rand. "Once those budgets are authorized, the elected officials, which includes the courts, can manage them as they see fit."

A committee agreed to transfer $220,000 from the general county budget to appoint interim public defender Jeffrey Flanagan for two months.

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