FOX 11 Investigates Follow Up: Lawmakers look to address DA shortage

(WLUK)

(WLUK) -- District attorney's offices across the state have been dealing with a shortage of prosecutors for years. Help may be on the way.

A 2014 study found the state was short nearly 140 prosecutors statewide. Now, lawmakers are looking to do something about it.

“We are taking a strategic and effective way to address this problem,” said State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

At a news conference in Madison, Nygren and other Republican lawmakers announced a plan to spend $4-million to hire 54 additional prosecutors. The new positions would be created in 40 counties throughout the state including two new assistant DAs in Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac and Manitowoc Counties; one additional assistant DA in Shawano and an additional part-time prosecutor in Marinette County.

“This is not a political maneuver in any way, shape or form. There are Republicans that represent these counties. There are Democrats that represent these counties, too. This is about real justice for crime victims throughout the state," Nygren said.

Prosecutors in Northeast Wisconsin welcomed the news.

“I think this is a wonderful step. I really do,” said Marinette County DA DeShea Morrow. She says the new part-time position would be added to another part-time position, which is currently vacant, to give the county a total of three prosecutors.

“There's certainly been a demonstrated need for more prosecutors and I think really this is a public safety concern. I think this is a real win for crime victims,” Morrow said.

“It's a great proposal and I'm pleased to see the commitment to public safety,” said Outagamie County DA Melinda Tempelis.

“Across the state, counties, including ours, are very behind in the referrals that are sent to us from law enforcement because of the shortage,” Tempelis said.

While the proposal doesn't completely alleviate the prosecutor shortage, Nygren says it's a step in the right direction.

“As more resources are available in the future, I would continue to believe that this would be a focus for us,” he said.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the proposal Thursday. It would still need to be approved by the senate and signed by the governor. If that happens, the new positions would start July 1, 2019.

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