Four years of budget cuts have created a vastly different criminal justice system in Sacramento County, reports the Sacramento Bee. In the fiscal year starting next month, District Attorney Jan Scully will have enough money to pay for about half the attorneys she had in 2008. Public Defender Paulino Durán has lost 10 percent of his staff in that same period. The county’s other indigent defense office will lose half its funding this year.
The result of all these cuts, experts and court officials say, is that cases are delayed, creating grief for defendants and victims alike. What’s more, crimes aren’t prosecuted fully, if at all. “Citizens are going to be victimized, citizens are going to be killed, because of these budget cuts,” said law Prof. Myers of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. Prosecutor Scully, who faces a $6.2 million shortfall said, “Arrests take criminals off the streets – only prosecutors keep them off the streets.” Case filings by law enforcement have stayed relatively consistent in the last four years, but filings by the district attorney dropped 8 percent because the office has stopped prosecuting certain crimes.