16th Judicial District Attorney Bo Duhé announced on Friday a 38% reduction in staff as a result of projected revenue shortfalls due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
That 38% is 45 of the 117 staff members, and includes employees in all three (Iberia, St. Mary, and St. Martin) parishes comprising the 16th Judicial District.
Duhé said the measures became necessary to ensure continued financial stability of the DA's Office, as a significant portion of their funding is from self-generated funds related to court costs, fines, and fees. The pandemic has resulted in "very limited" court functions and minimal traffic enforcement.
"We, like other businesses in our community, must operate within our means. The DA's office is a service organization. Salaries of employees comprise the vast majority of the overall expenses. Therefore, unfortunately that means the only meaningful way to cut costs is by reducing staff. These hard-working public servants are dedicated to the organization's mission to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of lberia, St. Martin and St. Mary Parishes. Hopefully, this action is temporary and many of these employees can return to work when revenues return to pre-pandemic levels or significant federal, state or parish funding becomes available. Until such time as that occurs, it will be necessary for the remaining staff members to take on additional tasks in an effort to continue lo fulfill the constitutional and statutory duties and responsibilities of the office during these difficult times," said Duhé.
"It is my sincere hope that this pandemic and the resulting financial crisis will provoke a more meaningful discussion about how the criminal justice system is presently funded and the need to establish a more stable funding source for public safety," said Duhé. "Such a crucial debate is long overdue. We simply cannot allow these events to deliver such a debilitating fiscal blow to the proper function of the public safety network."
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