District attorneys across New York again called on the governor to increase state funding to counties in order to support criminal justice reforms.
The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) submitted its annual budget letter to the governor this week.
“Change is happening at a rapid pace,” DAASNY President David Hoovler wrote. “New York is leading the way when it comes to achieving new heights in the criminal justice system. We must continue to make sure that the changes are responsible and adequately funded. This is critical to making sure the criminal justice system works for all New Yorkers.”
Among the most significant concerns the association has are those associated with new evidence discovery and bail reforms. Many voiced those funding concerns during state Senate hearings last week.
DAASNY asked the 2020-2021 budget include money for computer systems to facilitate electronic discovery, extra staff and funding for pretrial services to encourage attendance at court dates.
“In addition, such an agency could provide referrals for services ranging from housing and vocational training to mental health and substance abuse treatment,” Hoovler wrote.
It also said a $2.75 million appropriation to maintain the New York State Prosecutor’s Training Institute is key. The institute includes high-level training, ethics instruction, and other resources used by prosecutors and judges across the state and has not received a funding increase in nearly a decade according to the letter.
Other requests include:
- $375,000 for NYPTI’s witness protection program which the association believes will see increased need as a result of the new discovery rules
- $750,000 for police departments to help maintain and develop locations for videotaping interrogations
- Additional funding for crime laboratories totaling $10 million to support additional and expedited testing and exchange of information required with the new discovery law
“Unfortunately, many District Attorneys’ offices are underfunded and understaffed. Adequate resources must be provided so that prosecutors can serve the residents and visitors of our state at the highest professional level possible,” Hoovler wrote.
The new discovery law, which goes into effect January 1, requires prosecutors to turn over evidence, with few exceptions, to the defense within 15 days of arraignment.