State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today announced the passage of House Bill (HB) 5, his bipartisan bill with Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) to create the Ohio Public Defender State Loan Repayment Program to incentivize lawyers to work as public defenders in underserved areas of the state.
The program would give lawyers who become public defenders tuition loan assistance of up to $85,000 for 5 years of service. The average law student in Ohio graduates with $98,475 of debt.
“This bill will not only help provide every Ohioan the representation they deserve, but it will also help alleviate the tremendous burden of student debt,” said Rep. Leland. “HB 5 keeps the Ohio Promise of making sure the best and brightest students stay right here in Ohio.”
In Ohio, 70 percent of all defendants facing jail time cannot afford to pay for legal representation.
“Ohio’s public defenders are currently overwhelmed by an enormous caseload. That translates into potentially unnecessary jail time, unwise plea agreements, and even wrongful conviction—a clear lack of justice,” added Leland.
HB 5 was given priority status last month by Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford). After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.