Fewer dollars mean fewer convictions at Spokane County Prosecutor's Office - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fewer dollars mean fewer convictions at Spokane County Prosecutor's Office

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's looking bleak at the Spokane County Prosecutor's office and it's only going to get worse.

At year's end, the office, which employs 51 prosecutors, will lose eight of them due to budget cuts and attorneys say that will only lead to a heavier workload and, in turn, fewer convictions.

Without anyone available to prosecute, attorneys say criminals will get away with crimes, and perhaps even worse, those who are violated will not see much justice.

"The people who are home owners or car owners and have their cars broken into or their homes broken into, those are the kinds of crimes that see the most immediate impact," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Shane Smith.

Story continues below...

Cases pile up at the prosecutor's office creating these stacks

Already piling up in the prosecutor's office are stacks of cases that will not get prosecuted and instead, will only get taller.

While eight prosecutors does not initially sound like much, their absences create a gaping hole. Four of the attorneys leaving deal with property and drug felony cases, of which they each handle approximately 180 cases per year. It's simple math: Multiply 180 by four and you have 720 crimes not prosecuted.

The remaining four attorneys come from district court and are responsible for prosecuting crimes including DUIs, suspended driver's licenses or petty crimes. They each handle approximately 1,500 cases per year. Again, it's simple math: More than 6,000 cases will go un prosecuted. The result is a 'catch and release' system.

"There won't be any charges filed and there won't be any consequence and they'll be back on the street to commit further crimes," said Prosecuting Attorney John Grasso.

Attorneys with the prosecutor's office also said the number of crimes in the county is on the rise citing a caseload that has doubled from 2001 to 2008.

With the upcoming loss of staff, it will simply become impossible to prosecute every case.

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