Budget cuts could force Mississippi to lay off prosecutors

By Chip Washington - bio | email

HERNANDO, MS (WMC-TV) - Budget cuts in Mississippi could force the state to lay off prosecutors.

John Champion has been a District Attorney for 17 years, including the past nine years as D.A. over five counties in Northwest Mississippi. Recent cuts at the state house have raised some major concerns about how he will be able to do his job.

"If there's not enough money at the end of the year, which is June 30th, then we're going to be left with the proposition of laying off the assistant DA's and the investigators," Champion said Wednesday.

According to Champion, Mississippi lawmakers not restoring a $1.36 million dollar shortfall could mean a possible loss of 50 percent of the 122 district attorneys and assistant district attorneys across the state.

Champion is concerned about happens to those who are not given their due process in a timely manner.

"If the court grants some of these motions that say we have violated speedy trial rights because we don't have the prosecution to go in, there will be criminals walking out of jail," he said.

DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco doesn't want to see happen.

"That's a serious problem," Rasco said. "IF somebody commits a crime against my family, I want them prosecuted, and if somebody commits a crime against anybody else family in this, county I want them prosecuted also."

Champion said no matter what, he has a job to do.

"Just like a defendant has his day in court, our victims have the right to their day in court," he said. "It's my job to protect them, and I'm going to do everything that I possibly can to protect them."

Mississippi state representative Wanda Jennings said Wednesday the state is $400 million in the red, and the choice is to make cuts across the board, or raise taxes.

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