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Lawmakers' proposal addresses district attorney shortage

Assembly Republicans also rolled out a proposal Wednesday morning that would provide $4 million in state funding to hire about 53 new prosecutors in 40 counties across Wisconsin.

Those hirings would include two full-time positions in Douglas County, and one full-time position each in Ashland and Bayfield counties, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memorandum on the amendment.

"This is about real justice for crime victims throughout the state," said Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. "Swift and certain justice is an important tool for us to keep our citizens safe."

Under the proposal, counties that have less than 79 percent of recommended staffing levels for district attorneys will get funding to hire more. Dane and Milwaukee counties would not qualify because they exceed the 79 percent recommended staffing levels.

District attorneys have requested additional state funding for assistant district attorneys for years, including a 2016 request for more than 100 positions.

Attorney General Brad Schimel released a statement, saying prosecutors are the lynchpin of the criminal justice system.

"The representatives' proposal to provide over 50 new prosecutors is the solution to one of the biggest challenges in our criminal justice system," Shimel said.

The state is at a crisis point in its DA offices, but this proposal would avoid it, he said.

The bill does not include additional funding for public defenders, which interested parties have also pushed for in the Capitol.

Democrats criticized the bill for not including that funding.

"You cannot simply add to one side of the ledger in the criminal justice system, you cannot solely add prosecutors without corresponding action to criminal defense lawyers," said Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee.

The measure is part of a larger bill that would require the state Department of Corrections to revoke extended supervision, probation or parole for people who commit crimes while on extended supervision, probation or parole.

Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood contributed to this report.

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