UPDATE: D.A. Ozanne responds to County Exec Parisi. But does not deny that the district attorneys lobbied for more pay, not more prosecutors. Here is Ozanne’s response.
Is the weak link in the law enforcement chain Dane County’s district attorney? Ismael Ozanne is threatening to quit trying unspecified crimes due to lack of prosecutors.
“Dane County DA calls prosecutor shortage ‘public safety crisis.” (WI State Journal video)
The Dane County Police Chiefs Association is lobbying Dane County to provide more funding. County Exec Joe Parisi retorts that Dane County has increased funding by 40% in the last six years to pay for support personnel. Parisi correctly observes that district attorneys themselves are state employees. They’re on the state legislature’s tab, not the county’s. Dane County is not about to set a precedent by funding state responsibilities.
The dispute broke out into the open Monday when Parisi expressed “my extreme disappointment and concern with your media announcement that I fear both misled and and unnecessarily scared the public.”
Make no mistake; prosecutors are state employees. … Suggesting as you did last week that somehow county government has denied your office resources that have always been funded by the state is misleading.
Parisi noted that the state legislature recently wrapped up its budget deliberations. The exec questioned why Ozanne did not lobby the state for more prosecutors and why district attorneys lobbied for higher pay, instead.
At Ozanne’s press conference last week, Sheriff Dave Mahoney blamed the state:
It’s inexcusable that our state leaders, our lawmakers who are entwined in petty name-calling and arguments at the state level, fail to meet the needs of our citizens who are victims of crime.
But then again, where would he put the lawbreakers convicted by these extra prosecutors? Has the sheriff spoken out for a larger jail? Dane County is well on the way to approving a more humane but smaller jail — with a capacity of 9% fewer inmates.