Rotary Club Honors Public Defender Bob Dillinger
Rotarian Doug Hilkert hosted Public Defender Bob Dillinger in the 6th Judicial Circuit at a recent Wednesday noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Clearwater at the Belleair Country Club.
Dillinger stated that this is the 2nd oldest Public Defenders office in the nation. The Public Defenders office becomes involved when a person charged with a crime cannot afford an attorney. Dillinger received the 2004 award for advocacy efforts to assist the mentally ill in our state who are given jail sentences.
Dillinger stated that too many are given jail sentences for very small crimes, are then unable to pay their fines, and so are re-arrested for not being able to pay the fine. The Defenders office has programs to help the mentally ill become law abiding citizens. The Defenders office also has access to programs to help the homeless get off the street and to become self supporting. The Defenders office claims an 86 percent success rate in helping the mentally ill stay out of trouble through current diversion programs. There is however, a waiting list to be helped.
Dillinger noted that the policy of the Defenders office is to "Give a Hand Up, not a Hand Out." He said our community problem is that crime is down, but jail occupancy is up by 30 percent. There must be procedures developed to help stop reoccurring jail time for minimal offenses.
Return to Current Edition