Despite being too poor to afford attorneys, records from the Alabama Department of Finance show indigent defendants paid nearly $4 million in legal fees in Fiscal Year 2012.
State officials say the figure is only a fraction of what indigent defendants are charged for legal representation. Defendants aren't required to pay until being released from jail or prison.
Some attorneys say they wonder if the state tacking on additional fees for public defenders makes sense if their clients are already too poor to hire their own attorney.
There were 5,402 unpaid circuit court fees in Alabama in fiscal year 2012 that were given to district attorney's offices for collection. Some who don't pay the fees are sent back to jail.