LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – District attorneys across the state got a two percent salary increase from the Wisconsin State Finance Committee.
The raise comes as an attempt to help improve local court systems by maintaining district attorneys and keeping them from joining the private sector.
“It’s hard to keep people if they don’t see their salary increase when they know they can go in the private sector and increase their salaries,” La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said.
More money means a higher quality defense for the community.
“Hopefully by statewide giving prosecutors a reason to stay, we’ll get more experienced prosecutors, make better decisions and we won’t be training people,” Gruenke said.
The La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office is waiting for Governor Tony Evers to approve two more attorney positions that would cut down on increased case-load conflict.
“They’ll have more time to actually adequately review things and make appropriate charging decisions,” Attorney Joe Veenstra said. “And also be able to respond to inquiries from defense attorneys and people who are un-represented in a timely fashion to try to resolve cases earlier.”
A lack of district attorneys increases the amount of time that someone accused of a crime sits in limbo waiting for their trial, in turn, increasing the cost for the common taxpayer.
“Case-load pressures have an impact on the public and an impact on victims who want to see their cases prosecuted and want some closure,” Branch 4 Circuit Court Judge Scott Horne said.
“We’re not just trying to fill up more prisons by prosecuting more people,” Gruenke said. “We’re trying to manage the people we already have and we’re really short-handed right now. Two more people would let us do what we’re supposed to be doing daily.”
The La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office said the pay increase started in this July. If the two assistant district attorney positions are approved soon, they said they’re hoping to fill them by October. Then they will have ten attorneys on the team.
There are 59 other Wisconsin county’s looking to make new hires.