Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf has come up with a plan to fund the shortages of prosecutors around the state. By adding a $15-to-20 fee to civil forfeiture convictions it could generate up to $2 million in revenue, according to Assistant D.A. Dick Ginkowski. He says the idea is not a far stretch as civil forfeitures, which are non-criminal like traffic offenses, already have other fees tacked on. Ginkowski admits the end goal is to find a long term funding solution without raising taxes, but this assessment would allow offenders to “share the cost.”
Assistant DA Ginkowski (:23)
With about 400 prosecutors working right now, Wisconsin is already short up to 132 such lawyers. Meanwhile the state is calling for potential cuts.Ginkowski says assessment proposal would only “keep the wolf away from the door” in preventing layoffs but could not pay for more prosecutors to come on staff.
The Department of Administration says budgets for district attorneys are nearly $1.5 million short each year of the two-year state budget. The Association of State Prosecutors has been in contact with D.O.A in hopes of resolving the situation. The union has suggested five furlough days a year to save money.
Zapf sent a letter to four state lawmakers on Tuesday outlining his plan and Ginkowski says there’s been “some interest” so far.
District attorney’s offices being stretched too thin have been a problem for years and Ginkowski says legislators have not adequately addressed the issue. He questions priorites at the capitol as the state Senate recently passed a bill to add more than 45 public defenders; “Where’s the justice in that? Where is the justice for the citizens of Wisconsin who are the victims of these crimes?”