By Stephanie Malench
The Madison County Board will vote on a criminal justice revitalization plan resolution at its August 18 meeting to increase the State’s Attorney’s office by nine new senior prosecutors and the Public Defender’s office by three, as well as purchasing and installing 120 new license plate reader cameras throughout the county.
The resolution proposed during new business at the July 21 board meeting, by Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine, was billed as “a balanced and protective measure” between his office and the Public Defender’s office. Haine believes the resolution sends the message that Madison County is committed to public safety.
The rational for the resolution was the new requirement that as of October 1, the moratorium on speedy trials will be lifted and all trials will be fast tracked. This means that the 6,000+ felony cases, some of which have multiple charges attached to them, will have to be heard within 120 days of charges being filed.
During the board discussion, Judy Kuhn (R-Trenton), asked if the classification of crimes that are counted as felonies has changed over the last 10 years. Haine said it has not.
The hiring of additional staff will bring the 500 cases on each public defender’s case load down to 300.
Haine contributes the need to hire more staff to the fact that over the past 10 years, the number of felony filings has gone up 40% and there has been a decrease in the number of prosecutors hired by the State’s Attorney’s office.
The other part of the resolution calls for the purchase of 120 new license plate reader cameras to supplement those already installed throughout the county. Haine stated that 50% of the homicides committed in 2021 in Madison County have been committed by Missouri residents, and license plate readers have been successful in catching criminals.
The total cost for the staffing and cameras will be $1.3 million each year, with 40% of the total coming from American Rescue Plan Act funding.