By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the midst of budget season at Philadelphia City Hall, the District Attorney’s office is asking for a slight increase because violent crimes are on the rise again.
District Attorney Seth Williams pointed to a bar chart behind him, as he testified in council chambers, showing how the 22 largest counties in America fund their prosecutors.
“We receive the second worst funding per violent crime.”
And Philadelphia has the highest murder rate among those counties – just over 20 per 100,000 residents.
“It’s almost directly inversely proportional the rate of funding to the rate of violent crime.”
Mayor Nutter’s proposed $31-million allocation to the DA’s office is unchanged from the previous budget, but Williams is asking for a two percent increase – or nearly $637,000 – to hire more than a dozen prosecutors.
“So that I can have more senior assistant district attorneys just focusing on the homicides, the non-fatal shootings and the rapes.”
Williams says his aim is to incarcerate repeat violent offenders, to make Philadelphia safer.
Also asking for more money from Council was the Public Defenders Association, which provides lawyers to those who cannot afford them. That group says it needs an additional $5.5-million dollars — about a 15% increase — to hire 22 additional attorneys and to pay for rising medical costs.