Dallas, TX – The Family Violence Unit in the Dallas County District Attorney's office could take a hit when County Commissioners approve a new budget tomorrow. KERA's BJ Austin says state grant money is running out, and the county can't pick up the cost.
In the Family Violence Intake Unit of the D-A's office an assistant district attorney works with police, files felony domestic violence cases, and presents them to the grand jury. An investigator does that in misdemeanor family violence courts, and a legal secretary helps family violence victims get protective orders and otherwise navigate the legal system.
Officials with the District Attorney say the loss of these three jobs will make prosecution of domestic violence cases much slower. Brandy Smith, with the Brighter Tomorrow's shelter in Grand Prairie says that would not be good for victims.
Smith: When things take too long, they lose their nerve. They sometimes might not follow through.
Paige Flink, with The Family Place agrees that prompt access to the criminal justice system is critical.
Flink: The faster you get a perpetrator into the criminal justice system, the less likely they are to re-offend. It's the part that has to happen because if you don't hold the perpetrator of violence accountable, then nothing's going to change.
County Commissioner Mike Cantrell says 100 million dollars in state and federal grant money for many county jobs is running out. And there's no way the county can afford to keep those positions.
Cantrell: You can't come in and say well these three are important because next week three more are gonna be important, and then the next week five more are gonna be important. There's no way you can keep up with that.
Cantrell suggests the District Attorney look at his Hot Check Fund or Forfeiture Fund to see if he can find money to save the Family Violence jobs.
Assistant D-A Tammy Kemp pleaded with Commissioners to change their minds.
Kemp: In the grand scheme of things we're asking for about 250 thousand dollars. I know it's a lot of money. But someone has to be there to service these women, and sometimes men.
Paige Flink says she's hoping for a last minute solution.