Public Defender blames District Attorney for case backlog - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Public Defender blames District Attorney for case backlog

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By Natalie Fultz

COLUMBUS, GA - Public Defender Robert Wadkins tells WLTZ dozens of inmates should be freed  after going months in some cases...years without an indictment...

At one point nearly 275 un-indicted inmates were sitting behind bars in the Muscogee County Jail. And while that number has decreased in recent weeks, the latest report shows that there are 30 un-indicted inmates who have been waiting for their day in court for over a year, and of those un-indicted 130 have been waiting for over six months.

"Some people were writing letters to the Mayor and to some council people about how they've been in jail so long and nothing has happened to them. You can imagine when the Mayor gets a letter or a telephone call saying that my son has been in jail for 14 months and nothing has been done. That means they've been in jail without being formally charged with any charges," Wadkins says. 

Public Defender Bob Wadkins says most of those un-indicted are indigent inmates and blames the District Attorney's office for the slow process. Julia Slater is out of the office today and unavailable for a response.

"At the Public Defenders office, we have always had concerns about it because generally speaking it's the indigent people with no influence who are left in jail. They are indigent. They can't make bond many times, so they sit there until the District Attorney decides to accuse them or indict them or to plead them out," Wadkins says.

The range of crimes and charges for the un-indicted inmates varies, but for the ones that are petty, Wadkins says it's a bitter pill to swallow.

"They lose their jobs. They have very little contact with their families. It interrupts their lives for that period of time. It's just like putting it on hold and picking it back up later," Wadkins says.

And the inmates aren't the only one's paying a price. The lengthy process is causing overcrowding in the jail at the taxpayers expense according to the Public Defender.

"It costs $50 per day to house an inmate. So the taxpayers are paying for people who probably shouldn't be in jail or should already have their charges disposed of. Taxpayers are footing a pretty big bill for that," Wadkins says.

WLTZ was approached by an inmate while conducting today's interviews and one council members plans on disclosing his displeasure in upcoming days. This is an issue we're likely to hear about in the future.

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