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Elected district attorneys earn an average of 34 percent — or $24,000 — more than chief public defenders in Georgia, according to a survey by the Georgia Indigent Defense Council. They also have far larger staffs, the survey shows. Those inequities undermine the justice system and stack the deck against poor defendants, says Janice Barrocas, a senior staff attorney in GIDC’s compliance division and a lobbyist for the group. GIDC, a state agency charged with improving the quality of indigent defense, lobbies for and distributes funding that comprises about 15 percent of defender programs’ budgets. Muscogee DA John Gray Conger says workload explains the disparity. He says his prosecutors handle six counties in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit but the PD’s office only handles Muscogee. Morgan says he appreciates the well-staffed public defender offices because adequate staffing makes the justice system work better. But, he adds, “They still don’t have to work as hard as we do.”

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