Fresno County Cuts DA's Budget

September 10, 2008 12:44:21 AM PDT
The Fresno County Supervisors on Tuesday restored nearly three million dollars in budget cuts to the Sheriff's Department to keep inmates from being released from jail early.The early releases prompted protests from Fresno's Mayor and Police Chief who feared the just released inmates would commit crimes.

But other agencies within the county say budget cuts will have dire consequences for the community as well.

District Attorney Elizabeth Egan told the board they're plan to cut six hundred thousand dollars from her budget will force her to end a child abduction unit, that tracks down children taken in custody disputes.

Egan says, "It's such an incredible loss I think to the people out there looking for someone to help them when their child doesn't come back from visitation."

Egan also says she will have to eliminate a division that goes after deadbeat parents who don't pay child support.

She says it provides a vital service to families. Egan says, "There are certain parents that won't pay until the District Attorney investigator knocks on their door."

Egan says the DA's office will continue dealing with child abduction and child support issues, but those cases will become just part of the already huge caseload, not getting the special attention Egan feels they need.

"Overall" she says, "This means there will be more victimization, in these particular units, children will suffer, we know it."

Egan was not alone in protesting cuts to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting on Tuesday.

Probation Chief Linda Penner told the board members a one million dollar hit to her budget means juvenile offenders are being let out of boot camp, and staff members are being laid off. Penner said, "Young people that should be in custody, that should be held accountable will be released out into the community. At the same time, staff will be given pink slips and there will be layoffs in the probation department."

Both Penner and Egan believe the cuts to their departments will mean more crime, and more victims.

Egan says, "Those are real consequences to the budgeting that's going on in the county right now."

In past years when budget cuts threatened those programs in the District Attorney's office, and threatened to close the Juvenile Boot Camp, the County Supervisors managed to find additional money. But, with Sheriff Margaret Mims saying the 2.8 million her department received today is not enough to stop future inmate releases, the county may be hard pressed to find money for the District Attorney and probation departments.

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