Jeffrey Taylor, the U.S. attorney for D.C., isn’t the only federal prosecutor lamenting the lack of funding and personnel in his office. Although Taylor’s proposal to have attorneys from private firms prosecute cases on a pro bono basis is a novel approach to the problem, the proposal stems from a budget crunch that is affecting prosecutors around the country.
According to today’s Wall Street Journal, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are struggling with a major funding shortage. Vacancies haven’t been filled, investigations are stalled, and money for basic office needs like photocopying has been slashed. The budget for the offices isn’t even keeping up with inflation, and Congress denied cost-of-living increases to Justice Department employees. The result of all this belt tightening has been a downturn in prosecutions, especially in drug, violent crime, and white-collar cases.
So where is all the money going? The Journal reports that a shift in spending to terrorism investigations, the Iraq War, and a White House loath to fund domestic programs has caused the bulk of the budget squeeze.