Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Governor Bill Walker has requested additional prosecutors and support staff to try and curb the rise in crime in the state.
Alaska Public Media reported the state has seen increases in violent and property crimes while at the same time the Department of Law's Criminal Division has been hit with deep budget cuts.
The department said the circumstances have forced district attorneys to prioritize going after violent felonies ahead of any other cases, including non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.
"The offenses are still occurring, the crimes are still occurring," Deputy Attorney General Rob Henderson said. "We do not have the resources to prosecute all the offenses that come in the door, and so we have to prioritize."
The Governor requested five new prosecutors. The proposed cost is $1.2 million. They would also add support staff. None of the additional staff is planned in southeast.
But state Public Defender Quinlan Steiner said lawyers in his office are struggling with their own heavy caseloads. If more prosecutors means more charges filed, and there are still the same number of public attorneys available, Steiner said that too is a problem.
"It will certainly create a bottleneck, as we are unable to meet with clients and assist them in their cases in a timely manner. And we're starting to see that now," Steiner said.
The governor has requested more funding for the Public Defender Agency along with the additional prosecutor positions. But it remains to be seen what the Legislature includes as it crafts its state operating budget.
Another position the governor proposed is a statewide drug prosecutor, already funded under last year's budget.