Do DA’s offices merit more money?
A state analysis says Rock County is short nearly nine attorneys in its district attorney’s office and that only five of the state’s 72 counties have bigger shortages, based on percentages.
“It’s bad and getting worse,” Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary says.
O’Leary says his office charges some crimes as civil forfeitures as a way to free up personnel. Lesser offenders often wind up getting municipal citations. That’s one reason, he argues, that repeat drunken drivers should get stiffer sentences. Repeat offenders risk public safety and gobble attorney time as his staff deals with what he called a “crushing caseload.”
Another troublesome trend is that the state isn’t keeping up with prosecutor pay. Rock County advertised for a new prosecutor last spring with pay about $10,000 less than the average entry-level attorney makes in the private sector in Rock County, according to state data.
What can be done about this situation? We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Thursday.