Chatham Co. District Attorney’s office asks for additional funding

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County District Attorney says she needs more people working in her office and the money to pay their salaries.

The D.A.’s office is asking county commissioners for an additional $280,000 for the next fiscal year.

Further making her case for the funding need, Chatham District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones sent WTOC an email Thursday breaking down what impact that $280,000 would have if she got it, and if she didn’t.

In an eight-page letter, Cook Jones’ office says the allocation of money currently being proposed by the County would only make the criminal justice system less efficient, compromising public safety, increasing taxpayer spending and making crime prevention virtually impossible.

With that $280,000, the D.A. says she’ll be able to on-board four new prosecutors.

Those four assistant district attorneys would be tasked with fixing what was referred to in the letter as the “jail” problem by helping to reduce the population in the Chatham County Detention Center by moving more cases along for people awaiting trial.

The District Attorney says she’d have the four prosecutors focus on getting the longest standing inmates out of jail.

Another reason for the additional funding is the D.A.’s Office says they’re at 100-percent capacity, and that prosecutors are dangerously over-extended with their current caseloads.

Cook Jones says all of the issues facing her office existed pre-COVID, but that she now needs the extra manpower and staffing to deal with the backlogs compounded by the pandemic.

The Chatham County budget has to be adopted by July 1, so we’ll continue to track this request by the District Attorney, to see if it’s granted or not.

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