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About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers strongly urged legislators today to use part of the general fund growth projected by the May revenue forecast to fund District Attorneys.
"The people's prosecutors deserve more state assistance. Although Oregon has invested in prison beds and is considering an additional 100 new state police officers this session, no new funds have been provided for District Attorneys."
District Attorneys are state officers whose primary duty is the prosecution of those who violate state criminal laws. However, the state pays only 9% of the costs of District Attorney operations. County governments pay 80% of the costs, and the remainder comes from other sources, mostly federal grants.
In 1997, the legislature directed Myers to examine the issue of District Attorney funding. Earlier this year, Myers issued a report recommending the state eventually increase its share of District Attorney funding to a 50/50 split with county governments. The report recommended an initial $20 million increase in state funds in 1999, which would bring the state share to just under one-third of the costs.
"Make no mistake about it, District Attorneys are struggling to keep up," said Association of Oregon Counties legal counsel Paul Snider, who advocates on this issue for Oregon's county governments. "They're often dealing with overwhelming caseloads, antiquated technology, and the inability to hold onto our best deputies because of the workload. It just doesn't make sense to bring on new police officers at the front of the system, to build prison beds at the back of the system, and to expect that the critical middle - District Attorney - will some how be able to keep up without any help."
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