10/10/12

It's been 10 years if it's been a day since the Dane County District Attorney's Office started talking about the impact of severe staffing shortages. At the time there was some hope that then Gov. Jim Doyle, a former Dane County district attorney, would recognize the seriousness of the problem. He didn't. And no one else has since.

The state started paying for deputy district attorney's to ease the local property tax burden. But state budget problems have led to hiring freezes and cutbacks. Federal grant money paid for other positions. That's dried up too. According to a Wisconsin State Journal story, staffing levels this coming January will be what they were in 1985. Obviously the county has grown considerably during that time as have demands on the criminal justice system.

This is an unsustainable pattern. Justice will suffer. Safety will suffer. Victims will suffer. And the men and women in the DA's office who are working longer, harder and under more stress will suffer the most. Somebody in state government's got to wake up.