ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The City of Albany is experiencing a dramatic spike in gun violence this year. Despite some restructuring of their work model to comply with COVID-19 protocols, the Albany County D.A.’s office is still processing these cases, carrying out their discovery obligations, and they still have hearings. They just don’t have all the trial work going on to bring them finality.
At the same time, District Attorney David Soares says criminal justice reforms from the state are making it a more lengthy process to get that closure.
“We have what appears to be a closure rate on gun shooting cases of about 20%, which is indicative of cities like Baltimore, cities like Chicago,” Soares told NEWS10, “given the discovery legislation that was passed requiring prosecutors to turn over information of witnesses and victims so early on in the process, it’s caused a lot of people to shut down and not come forward.”
The Albany County Legislature has been holding budget sessions. Soares says he didn’t request any more new hires to meet his office’s needs next year because he didn’t get an accurate metric over the last three months of how the reforms have impacted their operations. However, he says they also didn’t have the opportunity during 2020 to fill all the positions provided to them in the last budget.
He says there’s still work to be done.
“We still need additional people to address the discovery compliance issues, because there’s more work there; the issues surrounding bail, with people not appearing in court when they were asked to appear at a certain time,” Soares explained.
Soares says his office has a great relationship with the legislature, and says he feels confident going to them with requests if he feels he needs to add more staff positions.