Sheb. Co. DA says county "severely understaffed" on prosecutors

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY (WITI) -- Sheboygan District Attorney Joe DeCecco says the county has a shortage of prosecutors -- saying the county needs seven more prosecutors in order to handle the amount of cases they are working on.

"We are so severely understaffed and we have been for some time. Not as badly as we have been this time. We are less than half strength now and have to still do the work," DeCecco told FOX6 News.

Counting DeCecco, there are currently eight prosecutors in Sheboygan County.

DeCecco says Sheboygan County prosecuted an additional 75 felonies in 2013, and says heroin is a big problem in the county.

"Five years ago, we had a template for our drug search warrants and it didn't even have heroin listed because we rarely had a heroin case and now almost every drug case involves heroin," DeCecco said.

Due to the amount of cases, and the amount of prosecutors, DeCecco says there's a bit of prioritizing going on in the courts.

"We've got people in jail everyday. We've got serious crimes being committed every day. Those are our main attention, our first attention, our priority attention. And these other cases have to wait," DeCecco said.

Samantha Bastil is a Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney. She says the cases that get less attention may be considered "white collar" crimes.

"Whether it's theft by contractor, or things like that that we just don't have the resources to get to because we are dealing with the top priority," Bastil said.

Hiring more attorneys means getting more funding from the state. Otherwise, DeCecco says courts may eliminate prosecuting minor crimes.

Attornies in the county are paid by the state. Adding one prosecutor in Sheboygan County costs about $55,000 a year for someone right out of law school.

DeCecco says Sheboygan County needs seven more, but would benefit greatly by getting even just one or two more.