Baltimore Prosecutors Quit; Low Pay Cited

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Baltimore prosecutors are quitting at the fastest rate in memory, as low salaries and high stress take their toll on the morale of an agency that has been criticized as a weak link in the city’s criminal justice system, the Baltimore Sun reports. Lawyers and judges say the result is a revolving door that undermines the office’s effectiveness in bringing cases before juries. “The ability of a prosecutor is directly proportional to the kind of justice you get in the courtroom,” said Salvatore Fili, who left two weeks ago as drug unit chief after 20 years. “Some young attorneys get their brains bashed in by judges.”

About 60 percent of the 215 lawyers in the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office have five years’ experience or less. Since 2003, 46 prosecutors have left, including 20 who had been there for five or more years. State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy says low salaries compounded by the stress of working in the state’s busiest criminal justice system contribute to turnover. Entry-level lawyers in her office earn $37,700. In Philadelphia, starting prosecutors earn $44,823; and in Dallas, $43,222. Entry-level counterparts in the Baltimore public defender’s office are paid $49,157. “When you cannot recruit and retain good people, you become the public employer of last resort,” Jessamy said. “It becomes a place for people who can’t find a job anyplace else. We don’t want that.”


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