Quick Guide

  • Cost Per Capita: $42.17
  • State Funding Level: 100% State Funding
  • State Independence: Non-Independent Commission
  • Primary Delivery Model: Staffed Public Defender
  • Workload Limits: None

Alaska has two state-funded agencies that provide all indigent defense representation throughout the state: the Public Defender Agency and the Office of Public Advocacy. Neither agency is overseen by an independent board but they are housed within the executive branch. The heads of both offices are gubernatorial appointees and maintain central administrative offices in Anchorage. Indigent defense throughout the state is funded by state general fund appropriations.

The Public Defender Agency maintains 12 branch offices throughout the state to provide trial-level representation. Each office is managed by a supervising attorney, and depending on its size each office may employ additional attorneys and staff, or may contract with private attorneys. The appellate division of the Public Defender Agency provides representation in direct appeals for adult criminal and juvenile delinquency matters, post-conviction, appellate matters resulting from Child In Need of Aid cases, and parole hearings. The Office of Public Advocacy provides representation when the Public Defender Agency has a conflict. OPA is primarily an assigned counsel system, but also maintains five trial-level branch offices.

The Office of Public Advocacy also provides services not traditionally handled by an indigent defense delivery system, including: serving as guardian ad litem for children and for incapacitated adults; advocating for victims of elder fraud; representing respondents in adult guardianship cases; and representing parents in custody cases.