Chicago’s top local prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, says she is struggling to keep up with the court system's “staggering” crime and violence caseloads under countywide budget cuts, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Speaking to the City Club of Chicago, Alvarez said, “The sheer volume of cases that we manage is staggering,” some 211,000 felony and misdemeanor cases last year, a nearly 4 percent increase over 2012.
At the same time, she's lost 130 staff in the past five years, she said. “In my office, the somewhat alarming reality is that we manage our burgeoning caseloads in spite of continuing cuts to our staffing and resources. Our ranks remain significantly understaffed,” she said. “There is no question that these cuts have had a negative impact on our quality of service in some areas, as well as our ability to move cases through the system as quickly as we would like.” Each misdemeanor prosecutor manages a caseload of nearly 1,600, while each felony prosecutor is managing 200 pending cases, while at the same time some 200 cases are being brought to trial weekly, Alvarez said, describing such numbers as among the highest in the nation. Most of her resources continue to be focused on gangs and gun violence.