District attorneys fear budget cuts could release criminals early
BATON ROUGE- District attorneys across the state are sounding the alarm Thursday night if nothing is done to plug the $1 billion-dollar budget shortfall.
The budget proposal would create an 85 percent cut to the DA's budget and would significantly reduce salaries for assistant district attorneys and eliminate services for victims.
"We couldn't recover," President of the LA District Attorneys Association said. "You're going to see dangerous criminals released from jail. You'll see people awaiting trials get postponed and eventually released and the pipeline continues."
A point of concern for the district attorneys is the proposed budget fully funds the public defender's office but cuts almost all funding from the District Attorneys.
This is a statement from the Governor's office on the budget situation:
"The governor was proud to have the support of the District Attorney’s Association for the historic, bipartisan criminal justice reform effort last year.
Unfortunately, with the state facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, every area of state government is being closely reviewed and cuts are being made across the board. The District Attorney’s have access to alternate sources of funding outside of state resources, while the public defenders do not. No one likes to see their budget cut, but without action from the legislature, our options are limited. It is the governor’s hope that the legislature will act to avoid the fiscal cliff and we can adequately fund both public defenders and the district attorneys."
District attorneys are saying the proposal could put people's safety at risk.
"It would decimate the criminal justice system," District Attorney Ricky Babin said. "I mean we'd have to shut down."