New Charging Unit Helping To Reduce Criminal Cases In Yakima
The Yakima City Prosecutors office is saving tax dollars and time with the creation in 2013 of what's called a charging unit. Senior Assistant City Attorney Cynthia Martinez says the job of the unit is to review each criminal case before it's filed with the court. She says before the charging unit was created police officers would file the charging papers and city prosecutors would handle the cases. Now that's changed.
"By having a prosecutor or charging unit review those cases we're able to weed out those cases that are not viable."
And that change has helped reduce the criminal caseload by 40% this year when compared to last year. The main reason for the change was that the State Supreme Court has ruled that public defenders are limited to 400 cases a year beginning in 2015. So the city decided to begin reducing caseloads a year earlier to see if the new system worked. And it's reduced the caseload by 40% and will also cut the number of public offenders the city needs to hire next year as well.