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Will economy put public safety at risk?

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The effects of the economy are hitting the criminal justice system. Hiring freezes are thinning departments, and the fear is that public safety could be at risk.

Assistant DA Roland Draughn spent his last day prosecuting drug offenders. He’s now entering the private sector.

The vacancy he leaves will make three open spots in the district attorney’s office, that can’t be filled.

Draughn had decided to pursue a career in the private sector. “I wasn’t planning on being so to speak, a lifer in the DA’s office and then kinda with all the different cut backs and things that are going on with the state, the timing kinda seemed right.”

Draughn leaves an opening in the DA’s office that will stay vacant. That is, until the state’s hiring freeze is lifted.

“I want my people to succeed I want them to grow and move on and that’s a good thing, but where we are now is we’re almost getting punished for people moving on and taking care of their careers and their families because we can’t replace them,” said DA Ben David.

The DA’s office is now down three members, and a fourth employee is planning to leave in the fall.

With so few people, and so many cases, public safety is a growing concern.

The public defenders office is under the same budgetary constraints, but staffing isn’t the issue. “Our jail is located so far away, it’s a 19 mile round trip from here and we are no longer allowed to get reimbursed for our mileage,” said Nora Hargrove.

While the departments face different challenges, there’s an underlying similarity… both departments must work harder and smarter while the state tightens the belt.

District Attorney Ben David traveled to Raleigh today to meet with the Head of the Administrative Office of the Courts to see if they can come up with enough money so the criminal justice system maintains its level of effectiveness.

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Story summary

videoThe effects of the economy are hitting the criminal justice system. Hiring freezes are thinning departments, and the fear is that public safety could be at risk.

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Associated poll

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