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Dane County DA office won't qualify for new positions

(NBC15)
Published: Feb. 22, 2018 at 7:31 PM CST
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The State Assembly passed a $4 million proposal to create around 53 new assistant district attorney positions in 40 counties across the state.

The Dane County District Attorney has voiced concern over short staffing, but under the proposal, wouldn't get money for staff.

The proposal uses figures from a 2012-2014 District Attorney Workload Analysis done by the Legislative Audit Bureau to calculate what counties are facing the worst Assistant District Attorney shortage.

Under the proposal, for counties to qualify for funding for new positions, they need to be operating below 79 percent of their recommended staffing level.

According to the Legislative Audit Bureau's website, they base that recommendation on a "weighted caseload formula [that] measures the number of prosecutors that each District Attorney’s office needs, based on the number and type of court cases for which that office is responsible."

According to the analysis, Dane County is operating at 90.29 percent.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne questions how the Legislative Audit Bureau calculates that shortage. He says his office is severely understaffed.

"We need adequate resources to make sure victims are taken care of, that we are getting to cases quickly and appropriately," Ozanne said.

The Dane County District Attorney's Office has only received one additional Assistant District Attorney since 1985. In 1985, the office had 26 Assistant District Attorneys. In 2015, they had 27.

From 1985 to 2015, the population of Dane County has increased by 54 percent, from 339,194 people to 523,643.

The number of adults arrested in Madison from 1985 to 2015 increased 105 percent, from 6,973 arrests to 14,265 arrests.

The number of new, adult criminal felony cases in Dane County increased by 39 percent from 1,091 cases to 2,810 cases.

"We, as a District Attorney's Office, have not grown," Ozanne said.

He says being short staffed is impacting how they prosecute crimes and how victims receive justice.

"It's hard for us to make sure that we can get to all the cases we need to as fast as we can," Ozanne said.

He says he's glad that the legislature is starting to address the state-wide shortage but he hopes relief for larger counties is coming soon.

"Hopefully we will be able to receive the resources we desperately need here in this community to keep our community safe," Ozanne said.

Columbia County does qualify for three-quarters of a new position. According to the 2012-2014 District Attorney Workload Analysis done by the Legislative Audit Bureau, their office is operating at 58.86 percent of the recommended staffing.

Iowa County also qualifies. According to the analysis, they are operating at 64.1 percent. Under this proposal, they would receive one-quarter of a position.

Green County would receive one-half of a position. Under the analysis, they are operating at 66.89 percent.

The bill now heads over to the State Assembly.