Fee collections are down thanks to closed courtrooms around the country, but in Alabama that poses a particular threat to district attorneys, who get as much as 70 percent of their budgets from the collection of court fees, the Montgomery Advertiser reports. At a recent state Senate committee meeting, one senator predicted that by August or September many prosecutors’ offices may have trouble making payroll.
Montgomery County DA Daryl Bailey estimates that collections from fines and fees have fallen by more than half. “It’s a horrible source of revenue for the criminal justice system,” Bailey said. “It is no way to run a government agency. But that’s the way historically it’s been done.” State money only covers about 30 percent of prosecutors’ budgets, according to Barry Matson, the director of the Office of Prosecution Services. Some counties, like Montgomery, provide local revenues to assist prosecutors’ offices, but most do not. Matson said without direct action from the state, layoffs might be possible. In a worst-case scenario, DAs would have to jettison all but constitutionally-mandated services.