AG Kilmartin Asks For Bigger Budget, More Prosecutors

RIAG Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is asking for an increase of 8% in his budget for the next fiscal year. Governor Chafee wants him to find 7% in cuts.  Providence Journal staff writer Tracy Breton reports on the staffing woes at the A.G.’s office in today’s paper, “Stretched to the limit, prosecutors plead case.” Kilmartin insists he needs to increase his staff by eight, including four additional prosecutors, and provides convincing statistics and analysis to support that claim.

Breton follows Terence M. Coyne, a prosecutor in the A.G.’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit, as he goes through a typical day — “He doesn’t always work 12-hour days, but Coyne and the other lawyers in his unit have 80 to 100 cases assigned to them at any one time.” — that is an insane caseload.

Nowhere in this article does anyone suggest taking a huge step back and reevaluating whether our current policy of arresting and charging an endless stream of nonviolent drug offenders might be contributing to this problem, and to what end. (It is noted that since Kilmartin took office, the Drug Court has been increased to four days a week.) Over the past 40 years the United States has spent well over $1 trillion and made 39 million arrests of nonviolent drug users.

Perhaps, instead of more prosecutors, we need fewer crimes.

(Beth Comery is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. LEAP membership includes many former/retired judges and prosecutors.)

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