KGET — Kern County is planning to pour more money into agencies dealing with the effects of prison realignment, namely the courts. This comes as Kern County public defenders and prosecutors handle thousands more cases, they say, because of the implementation of AB 109.
The latest statistics from the Kern County Sheriff's Department show the crime rate up again in the first three months of 2013. While homicides are down 57 percent and rapes down 35 percent, burglaries are up seven percent, robberies up 20 percent, auto thefts up 19 percent, and drug arrests are up 65 percent.
That increase in crime has hit the courts. The Kern County Public Defender's Office said its caseload is up more than 17 percent since the implementation of prison realignment in the fall of 2011. The Kern County District Attorney's Office said their felony filings are up nearly 40 percent since December 2012.
"We're just overwhelmed with cases," said District Attorney Lisa Green.
That's why Wednesday, Public Defender Konrad Moore and District Attorney Lisa Green asked the Community Correction Partnership for more state prison realignment funds. The partnership is in charge of dividing up those funds among agencies in the county.
"People have to feel safe in their homes and if they are victimized that their case is taken care of," said Green.
Right now, the District Attorney's Office said its 14 felony attorneys handle an average of 344 cases. This year, Green estimates that caseload will increase to 445 cases per attorney unless more staff is added.
"When there's a car being broken into or house or whatever it is, they expect to have their case handled in a competent professional manner, and it's difficult to do that when you're handling 450 cases per attorney," said Green.
Last year, the District Attorney's Office received $275,145 of the $23 million the county received for realignment funds. On Wednesday, Green asked the Community Corrections Partnership for $1.25 million for an additional ten personnel. continue reading...