The Public Defender's Office, 15th Judicial Circuit, is located in downtown West Palm Beach and serves Palm Beach County. Spanning approximately 2,000 square miles, Palm Beach County extends from Boca Raton to Jupiter and to the state's rural center and the northern edge of the Everglades national park. The "Palm Beaches" span 47 miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean. The County's major industries are tourism, construction, and agriculture.

With a population that grew by 13.2% between 2010 and 2021, Palm Beach County is home to approximately 1.5 million people. The County's population reflects a diversity of backgrounds:

  • 37% of those 25 and older possess a bachelor's degree or higher and 89% possess a high school diploma or higher
  • 74% identify as white, 20% as black, 3% as Asian, 2% as two or more races, and less than 1% identify as American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander
  • 24% identify as Hispanic or Latino
  • 73.5% of residents were born in the United States and 26.5% of residents were born elsewhere
  • 71% of foreign born residents were born in a country in Latin America
  • 88% of County residents possess US citizenship
  • 19% of the population is younger than 18 years old, 56.5% is between 19 and 64, and 24.5% are 65 and older
  • 70% of people speak only English, while 31% speak another language, the largest subgroup of which are Spanish speakers at 19%

The County also features hundreds of attractions, which range from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, the Norton Museum of Art, the PGA National Resort, Lake Okeechobee, to Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Palm Beach County is also home to multiple large universities including Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College.

With an average daily temperature of 74 degrees in winter and 89 degrees in summer, residents and visitors enjoy access to beaches, lakes, colleges, universities, golf courses, arts' venues, shopping locales, cultural attractions, nature preserves, restaurants, parks, outdoor recreation, and family-friendly activities.

The Challenge:

Palm Beach County's amenities aren't accessible to all of its residents. There are disparities in housing, health, income, and incarceration. For example:

  • 22% of Palm Beach County's population is identified as living with severe housing problems, with 16% of the population identifying as chronically homeless and 6% of youth age 18 to 24
  • Home prices increased between 2021 and 2022 by 25.5%
  • The home ownership gap between whites and blacks is substantial, with 76% of whites being homeowners compared to 48% of blacks
  • 13.5% of the population is uninsured
  • 12% are on Medicaid
  • 12% of households live below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 17% of children in Florida live below the Federal Poverty Level
  • The largest demographic living in poverty are females age 25 to 64, followed by females older than 75, and then females age 55 to 64
  • 46% of county households struggled to make ends meet
  • 24% of population fall into an individual income bracket of less than $15,000 and 18% of household income brackets is less than $25,000
  • While the unemployment rate is approximately 4% it is upwards of 12% among people of color
  • 43% of blacks, 41% of whites, and 16% of Latinos are admitted to Palm Beach County jails on average
  • 1,884 people are confined on average each day in Palm Beach County jails, 57% of whom are Black, 24% white, and 19% Latino
  • These data reflect disproportionately high rates for blacks — whose jail admissions are 43%, who have longer lengths of stays (41 days compared to 17 days for whites), and whose daily confinement rates are 57% — as blacks represent 20% of Palm Beach County's population