Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Judicial Leaders Work Until Last Minute to Save Public Safety Improvements from Fulton Budget Axe

Leaders of the Fulton County Georgia judicial system on Tuesday continued their effort to get county officials to restore $4.2 million cut from the system’s 2010 budget. The cuts include $2.4 million in operating costs and $1.8 million in staff vacancies for the Superior Court, Clerk of Superior Court, District Attorney, Public Defender, State, Probate and Juvenile courts, Solicitor General and Marshal’s office.

If these cuts are restored judicial system leaders told county officials they will be able to:

• Continue the Fast Track felony case management system that has cut the time it takes to complete non-violent property and drug cases to just 45 days.

• Continue the current number of participants in the county’s successful Drug and Mental Health Courts.

• Continue the highly effective, cost-saving pretrial supervision program that gets 97 percent of felony defendants to all court hearings without new charges.

• Continue a new intensive pretrial supervision program that reduced jail expenses by $3.5 million from April through December 2009.

• Prepare for a major anticipated increase in criminal cases from hundreds of new Atlanta Police Officers being hired through a federal COPS Grant.

• Drastically reduce the Fulton Jail population by July 1, 2010.

• Prepare a plan to increase revenues and collections from fines and fees.

• Prepare a plan to consolidate duplicative judicial system offices.

The Fulton justice system cannot control its incoming “inventory” of murder, rape, robbery and burglary cases so justice system leaders must be allowed to continue programs that out-produce the offending population to keep the county safe.

Judicial system leaders are working together to coordinate prevention, protection, restoration, correction and punishment efforts but cuts prevent them from keeping up with incoming cases, much less the increase anticipated from deploying additional Atlanta Police Officers.

Judicial leaders say restoring these funds will produce immediate savings by reducing the number of defendants in the county jail.

Failing to adequately fund the judicial system will swell the county’s jail population, greatly increasing the cost to taxpayers for housing, feeding and caring for pretrial defendants.

Key Points of the Judicial System Plan to enhance public safety and increase access to justice for families, children and businesses.

• Fast Track Felony Case Processing

• Pretrial Release Supervision

• Jail Population Reduction Plan

• Elimination of Duplicated Services

• Increased Fee and Fine Revenue

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