Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More help for courts on way?

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was back in Raleigh Tuesday to meet with Senate leaders and the Mecklenburg delegation in his campaign to get more funding for the courts system. While the meeting didn’t result in a solution, Basnight and Sen. Dan Clodfelter of Charlotte worked out a basis for additional funding for the courts.
Clodfelter is in a good position to work on this issue. He’s vice-chairman of the Appropriations Committee on Justice and Public Safety, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and vice chairman of the Senate Judicary I Committee dealing with civil law. Word is that Basnight and Clodfelter are looking at an increase in court costs to produce more revenue for courtroom resources.
Mayor McCrory has pressed the legislature to boost court funding for a number of urban areas that have heavy criminal calendars in the courts and need more law enforcement resources. The legislature last year boosted court funding significantly, with the support of Gov. Mike Easley.
Clodfelter backed that expansion and is supporting more, though he has been careful to point out that an examination of caseloads and resources in the state’s largest judicial districts does not support the notion that only a few places have special court needs. It’s a statewide problem, and Mecklenburg fares well in some areas and not in other areas of court resources.
The legislature’s Fiscal Research Division points out that in 2005, Mecklenburg was just 5 percent larger in population than Wake, but had 40 percent more magistrates than Wake. The third largest district was Guilford, which is two-thirds the size of Wake, but which had one-third more magistrates than Wake.
On the other hand, Mecklenburg and Guilford both had “significantly more criminal cases filed in Superior Court than Wake, 40 percent and 25 percent respectively,” the analysis noted. And while Wake had 10 percent more traffic infractions than Mecklenburg, the latter had more than 50 percent more juvenile petitions to handle.

7 comments:

Clayj said...

Jack, good info.

The number of people who are DAs/DA staff/magistrates should not necessarily be proportional to the population... the number should be linked to the number of crimes committed per period of time. As you pointed out, some counties have higher crime rates than others, and therefore they need more DAs than you might think.

I don't know if it's that the folks in Raleigh are oblivious of this concept, or if they just don't care, but it's criminal (pardon the pun) that in CharMeck, we have so few folks in the DA's office to handle prosecuting criminals... and this has led to the revolving door policy which has been so well documented by Tara Servatius at Creative Loafing and other folks in the press.

We need more DAs; more jail space; more police officers and sheriff's deputies; and more violent criminals put behind bars where they belong. Protecting the safety of the citizenry is perhaps the #1 priority of government... and ours isn't doing all that it could in that regard.

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