July 26, 2022
Senators Anthony Palumbo and Tom O’Mara today sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul requesting an update on the disbursement of funds allocated for district attorneys’ offices across the state, which were aimed at easing the burdens created by the discovery and bail reforms passed as part of the 2019-2020 State Budget.
“These reforms have dramatically increased the burden on prosecutors as prosecutors are required to review, prepare and disclose all information, paperwork and evidence associated with a criminal case within an impossibly short timeframe. District attorneys have been struggling to comply with these onerous requirements since the changes went into effect in 2020, as offices around New York State continue to lack staffing, resources, and funding. As a result, dedicated and experienced prosecutors are struggling to manage the workload. These prosecutors are working long hours without any meaningful pay increase to make up for the nights and weekends they must spend working,” wrote the Senators.
The District Attorneys Association of New York has estimated a need for $100 million to properly handle the recent changes, and the letter raises serious concerns about retaining district attorneys. President J. Anthony Jordan has stated that “[d]istrict attorneys’ offices all over our state are struggling to retain and recruit qualified assistant district attorneys.”
In the letter, the Senators requested the Governor make available the entirety of the Criminal Justice Discovery Compensation Fund for district attorneys across New York State, and called for transparency regarding how funds have been dispersed thus far, including which counties have received money and how much each county has received.
Earlier this year, Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt sent a letter to the Hochul Administration seeking answers on how gun violence emergency funding was being allocated. There has been a dramatic disparity of support and resources given to local police departments and district attorneys throughout the state dating back to January.
Since 2019, Democrats have passed a slew of soft-on-crime, pro-criminal policies, resulting in a growing crime crisis in New York and burdening district attorneys’ Offices. In that same time, the Senate Republican Conference has championed much-needed, common sense measures to curb the increase in violence by proposing a plan to restore public safety, unveiled under the ‘Take Back New York’ 2022 Agenda.