Can justice be served if staff is too small?

Johnson City Press • Apr 9, 2014 at 8:40 AM

It’s been a problem for a number of years now, and it doesn’t appear to be one that state lawmakers are eager to remedy anytime soon. The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference says prosecutors are short handed in all areas of the state.While hundreds of new laws have been passed in the last few years, DAs have seen the size of their staffs remain the same. In fact, no more than seven new positions have been added statewide since 2011. As a result, DAs say their offices need an additional 119 prosecutors statewide to get the job done.The same also is true of public defender offices across the state, which have seen their case loads surge while resources dwindle. Can we truly say justice is being served under these conditions?Before you answer that question, consider the impact this lack of staffing is having on our justice system. Cases are being delayed as prosecutors (and public defenders) try to cope with growing workloads. In our own 1st Judicial District, the two beleaguered assistant DAs assigned to handle child support cases are scrambling to keep up with 10,800 open cases.Is that justice? We don’t think so, and we urge state lawmakers to take steps to correct this glaring problem.

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