July 11, 2007

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today thanked Speaker of the House Dennis O’Brien, the General Assembly and Governor Edward G. Rendell for passing a financial reimbursement component of the 2005 Full-Time District Attorney legislation as part of this year’s budget process.

Signed into law yesterday, House Bill 10 comes after two years of work between the District Attorneys Association, the legislature, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania to meet the state’s obligation to reimburse counties 65% of district attorney’s salaries.  For those counties which had full-time DAs prior to 2006, the savings are substantial.  Even more significant is the fact that new full-time DA counties will spend less money paying their full-time DAs now than they did to pay their part-time DAs prior to the passage of the 2005 legislation.

“The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is grateful for the hard work and dedication of Speaker O’Brien and his colleagues in the House and Senate who never gave up on getting this important legislation done,” said PDAA President and Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin.  “Now, the cost of prosecuting crime will be borne more by the criminals than the taxpayers.”

The new law creates a Criminal Justice Enhancement Account which will be funded by directing some revenue from existing criminal fines imposed on designated criminal offenses  and adding a $50 fee charged on those convicted of felonies and misdemeanors and those whose cases go through Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

“Two years ago Pennsylvania was one of only five states to that still accepted the antiquated practice of prosecuting crime part-time,” Martin continued.  “Now, Pennsylvania not only has properly given its citizens full-time crime fighters, but it’s given the counties a way to simultaneously prosecute criminals properly and save the taxpayers money.”

In 2005, the full-time DA legislation passed with overwhelming support of elected representatives in all 67 counties. The legislation also enjoyed wide support from Pennsylvania organizations including:  County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Coalition of Pennsylvania Crime Victims Organizations; the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Attorney General’s Office; the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Fraternal Order of Police; the Chiefs of Police Association; the Pennsylvania Bar Association; and the Sheriff’s Association.  No groups opposed the bill.