Cannizzaro Threatens Fund Cutbacks for Diversion, etc for New Budget!

The head D.A. is threatening draconian changes in Diversion and Witness Protection programs if the proposed budget is accepted.  Also, his Victim Witness Assistance link comes up dead! “Information is Coming Soon” is all it says!!  Looks like that budget is already shredded if they don’t have a simple few pages by now in 2011 for the public to access. That is very surprising.

The proposed budget maintains city financing for his office at $6.2 million, the same as this year, making up the largest chunk of a $14 million total budget. But Cannizzaro said his office will lose $811,000 in federal grant money next year, and the city is forcing it to eat $344,000 in health insurance premiums.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro outside his new post Katrina building

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro outside his new post Katrina building

A pay freeze on prosecutors would only hasten a steady exodus of low-paid lawyers from the office, said Cannizzaro, who estimated that two-thirds of his 88 assistant district attorneys have three years or less in experience.

“On almost a monthly basis, I am losing ADAs to surrounding jurisdictions because they pay them more and demand less work,” he said. “Our effectiveness in court will suffer if I am required every year to field a brand-new team.”

Records show that more than 50 prosecutors have left the office since Cannizzaro took office in early 2009. The state covers their base $45,000 salary, with the office picking up any raises. Annual salaries for the prosecutors range from $45,000 for beginners to $149,000 for first Assistant District Attorney Graymond Martin.

Cannizzaro also argued to the council that his office takes on a heavier workload than his predecessors did, citing a 31 percent increase in accepted cases over 2008, a 65 percent increase in total convictions and a 211 percent rise in convictions for violent crimes. On a screen, Cannizzaro flashed the mug shots of some notable recent convicts — Telly Hankton, Darrill Henry, Damien Jordan — to bolster his case.

Now the question is why have 50 ADAs left since 2009? One main reason Cannizzaro doesn’t mention is such a position is considered a stepping stone to a bigger law career either on the other side of the isle,  and many of the ADAs he hires are not of sufficient abilities to utilize the diminishing moneys the DA receives efficiently.

The Diversion Department as well as Probation & Parole and Indigent Defender Program, all fall under the infamous 150 Rule, meaning the counselors all have 150 or more clients to represent!  That’s an impossible workload, so it means 90% plus get no help at all from their ‘counselors’.

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~ by neworleansmusicman on November 18, 2011.

One Response to “Cannizzaro Threatens Fund Cutbacks for Diversion, etc for New Budget!”

  1. […] the system when they are first caught, with programs like Diversion, which I’ve written about extensively. Diviersion is tragically underfunded, as is the Indigent Defender Office, Probation & Parole, […]

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