Counties across Colorado are preparing to earmark millions of dollars in new criminal justice spending – money that will pay for new law officers, courtrooms, and prosecutors, reports the Rocky Mountain News. Part of the spending is the inevitable consequence of a growing population and continuing efforts to prevent crime and get tough when it occurs. Part is the result of the state’s unprecedented plan to hire 43 new judges over the next three years – a move that will have the ripple effect of forcing sheriffs and district attorneys to hire people to staff new courtrooms.
The state judicial branch sought the new judges after two decades in which the number of court filings grew three times faster than the creation of new courtrooms. While the state provides the salary and staff for each judge, it is up to counties to provide courtrooms, up to sheriffs to provide security and up to district attorneys to provide prosecutors.b In Adams County, District Attorney Don Quick is hoping that he’ll have roughly $500,000 to begin hiring seven new prosecutors and four new legal secretaries – the result of three new judges taking office in the county in the second half of 2008. In the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe and Douglas counties, District Attorney Carol Chambers hopes to hire up to five prosecutors to work in three courtrooms that are expected to open in 2008. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey expects to spend $294,287, beginning on July 1, to hire three prosecutors, an investigator, a victim’s advocate and a legal secretary to staff a new courtroom. The cost will double in 2009, when new employees are on his payroll for a whole year.