Cry Me a River: DOJ Hurting for Funds
Woe is me, cries the Justice Department, according to the Wall St. Journal.
In the past few years, U.S. attorneys' offices around the country have been unable to fill vacancies. Lawyers sometimes can't travel to interview witnesses. Even funds for basic office needs such as photocopying documents and obtaining deposition transcripts have been cut, according to current and former officials.
Department of Justice data show the impact. Prosecutions are down overall, with large drops in categories such as drugs, violent crime and white-collar offenses.
Could have fooled me. But assuming that's true, what's the reason? How about the war in Iraq?
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal priorities shifted to terrorism from routine crime fighting. The cost of the Iraq war also prompted Congress and the White House to slow the growth of many types of domestic spending.
....[M]ore than 100 lawyers and administrative personnel from U.S. attorneys' offices have gone to Iraq to help the fledgling government there. The offices generally pay the salaries of the seconded attorneys, which would typically be about $120,000 a year plus an additional 25% in combat pay.
Easy answer: Shift the priorities back to crime-fighting, bring the prosecutors home from Iraq.
There is one group of prosecutions that have increased: Immigration cases.
Of the categories detailed in the statistics, only immigration cases showed an increase. These rose to 18,147 cases in 2005 from 13,676 in 2002, or 33%, before dropping back to 17,686 in 2006.
As for fewer small drug cases, what's wrong with that? Most of them belong in state courts:
One way budget cuts led to fewer cases was the raising of "thresholds" for filing cases, prosecutors say. For example, an office might raise the minimum for filing drug cases to those involving at least five kilograms of drugs instead of two.
Then there's the lament about salaries. At $120,000 per year, please, hold your tears. Everyone sacrifices the big bucks when they do public service work. Not to mention, what do public defenders and judges make, and why should AUSA's make more?
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