New York state’s Roman Catholic church leaders and a coalition of civil rights and legal groups are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve state takeover of local government costs of legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.

“The Catholic Conference believes a well-resourced indigent legal defense program is firmly in keeping with our long-standing advocacy of criminal justice reform and must be supported,” the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, Richard Barnes, said in a letter to the governor Nov. 23.

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