Cuts could devastate DA’s office services, staffing

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The Louisiana District Attorney’s Association predicted that each District Attorney office around the state will lose a majority of their experienced prosecutors and would end victim support services if their budget is cut by 82 percent.

Pete Adams, executive director of the LDAA, testified in the House Appropriations Committee that in his 44 years of experience, “never had an agency or department to have received such a significant reduction in funding.” The Fiscal Year 2018-19 operating budget reduced the district attorney’s annual appropriation from $31.7 million to $5.4 million.

“This is what will happen. We will lose the experienced prosecutors. These are skilled litigators who will leave to go into private practice. We are going to lose valuable experience and service that we won’t replace in the next 10 years. It will be devastating, catastrophic cuts. You are looking at no victim services, no domestic violence services, no specialty courts,” said Adams. Adams also warned that “we are looking at letting people out of jail, regardless of the charge, because we can’t provide them with a speedy trial.” 10th Judicial District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington attended the committee hearing and advocated for preserving the services his office provides to crime victims and citizens in Natchitoches Parish.

“I can also assure you that my victim’s assistance coordinator would not be able to survive an 82 percent reduction of salary. We will be forced to end the program and won’t be able to serve the needs of crime victims in Natchitoches Parish,” said Harrington. Harrington also stressed the immediate effects of the budget reduction would include the loss of experienced prosecutors who represent the State of Louisiana on behalf of crime victims. “These cuts would be devastating for our office.

In today’s economy, I can’t imagine any assistant district attorney employed here being able to survive an 82% reduction of salary. I am proud of my ADAs who have chosen public service as their career and it is very disappointing that they are being used as pawns in the budget war,” said Harrington. Harrington and other members of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association have been working at the Legislature this week to find an appropriate solution that will avoid the catastrophic cuts to the district attorney’s budget. The Legislature just closed the third extraordinary session of the year. The FY 2018-19 budget begins July 1.