Most prosecutor’s employees in Louisville have an unpaid week off during the week of the Kentucky Derby next month, and will have another week off before the end of May. A $1.3 million shortfall has left commonwealth’s attorneys’ offices throughout the state scrambling, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Because the state legislature failed to provide $4.7 million for county and commonwealth’s attorneys this fiscal year, many fear more cuts will come, which could have drastic effects on the court system.
“One of the primary purposes of the government is the protection of the people,” said Chris Cohron, president of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Association. “And unless you fund the court system, that can put that in jeopardy.” The funding shortage could lead to delayed cases, less money for expert witnesses, and increased costs in housing inmates. “Unfortunately the criminals did not take a furlough week,” Cohron said, adding, “It’s a nightmare.” The state’s prosecutors were given three options for reducing budgets by 4 percent: implementing three one-week furloughs before May 31, reducing staff salaries by 15 percent or laying off employees. More than half of the state’s 57 commonwealth’s attorneys’ offices chose furloughs, which amounted to 99 weeks of lost court time.