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"In April alone, we spent 133 FTE hours serving the community and helping individuals with alcohol and drug issues, and helping address issues of public safety and reintegration in the community," Smith said.
Work on addiction issues adds work hours outside the regular courtroom, as well. This year, Smith began tracking hours put in by her lawyers Reebok Navy Blue Shoes to help clients deal with addiction, including time with juvenile and adult incarceration alternative programs, drug and DUI court.
State's Attorney Aaron McGowan told commissioners during a budget hearing that his criminal prosecutors handle 430 cases a year, in part Saucony Mirage
Most crime has a chemical component, he said.
a 45 percent increase in criminal charges between 2009 and today.
Howard has six lawyers in her office one more than last year at this time to handle the 746 new cases opened so far this year. Based on national studies of public defense work, the caseload at the advocate's office was large enough last year to need 6.25 lawyers.
McGowan told Kelly that he'd "be happy to have fewer lawyers and less work" but pointed to skyrocketing methamphetamine and alcohol arrest rates as a key factor.
The State's Attorney's office is responsible for testing fees, as well, McGowan said, and many of the payments are required by law. Rape examination kits cost $850 each, he said, and an increased caseload forces him to add more to his budget for such testing every year.
"Given the increase, we're going to be at seven by the end of the year," Howard said.
McGowan asked for one additional lawyer to add to his staff of 24 and one paralegal to help deal with Reebok Club C
Minnehaha County Commissioners fielded budget requests Wednesday from swamped public safety officials.
"Victims of sexual assault should never have to pay for that, don't get me wrong, but that is a statutory responsibility for us that we have to budget for," McGowan said.
Howard's office handles cases when conflicts arise within the public defender's office. If two people are charged out of the same incident, for example, they each get a lawyer.
Struggle to keep up with county's need for lawyers
Felony cases, the most serious and time intensive cases for prosecutors, increased from 1,983 last year to 2,119 this year.
"Is there an underlying current that's creating this? Is there something that's causing this?" Kelly said.
Commissioner Dick Kelly said he's concerned about the increase. The jump in serious crime was his largest concern. Sheriff Mike Milstead told commissioners last week that the 400 people at the secure downtown jail are there because the crimes are serious enough for them to be.
because of a steadily rising crime rate in the state's largest county.
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"We can take away all the drugs in the world, there will still be alcohol, there will still be prescription drugs," McGowan said.
defender's office is asking for three more lawyers to keep up with its caseload. Their caseload justifies a 25 person office, Public Defender Traci Smith said.
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