Facing budget reduction, Dept. of Law Criminal Division spreading 15 personnel cuts around the state.
The Criminal Division of the state’s Department of Law is downsizing statewide to absorb reductions in state funding. The district attorney’s office in Dillingham will be lose half its staff, and Naknek cases will soon be handled out of Anchorage instead of Dillingham. KDLG’s Dave Bendinger has more:
Audio transcript below ...
The personnel cuts are being spread out around the state, but Dillingham is among several of the smaller department of law offices that will see a 50 percent staff reduction. John Skidmore is the director of the state’s Criminal Division:
"The budget cuts that have occurred for the Criminal Division mean that there are 15 positions across the state that had to be eliminated. In the Dillingham office specifically, it means that it will be downsized from two attorneys and two support staff to one attorney and one support staff."
Skidmore says the staff were made aware of the changes Monday.
Dillingham has hundreds of open cases from all over the Bristol Bay region. The remaining one attorney will take on the majority of the cases currently assigned to the departing attorney, essentially doubling the work load.
Skidmore himself used to work in Dillingham in the 1990's when only one attorney was assigned to the office. He says the solo attorney has the backing of more attorneys and staff in Anchorage.
“The Dillingham office has always been supervised and supported by the Anchorage office. It was back then, it still is today, and it will be going forward into the future. That having been said, with these reductions, one of the changes that we’ll be making is having the Naknek or King Salmon cases being handled by the Anchorage office.”
This sort of reduction, a total of 19 personnel statewide over two fiscal years, means there will be changes in how the division operates in its core job of prosecuting state criminal cases.
“We’ll have to make some difficult decisions about which cases we’re able to take forward and which ones we’re not. But we’ve always been in that position as prosecutors to evaluate the cases that are in front of us and the resources we have available to handle them.”
There was a very real possibility that the division would shut down the Dillingham district attorney’s office and handle all of the cases out of Anchorage. Skidmore says that’s been put off for now.
He says the one attorney and one support staff position being laid off will probably work their last day at the end of this month.
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