Tompkins DA Explains How State Criminal Justice Reforms Will Cost The County

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Within the new Tompkins County budget is a $170,000 increase for the District Attorney’s office to meet the needs of new statewide criminal justice reforms.

District Attorney Matt Van Houten said the most costly reform is the new rules about discovery. Those affect how much information is available to defense attorneys and how quickly the D.A. has to share it.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

Tompkins County District Attorney Matt Van Houten in his office, November 8, 2019. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

“We are now required to provide every thing that could possibly exist in connection with a criminal case within 15 days of the defendant’s first appearance in court,” Van Houten said. He added that his office is hiring more people and buying new equipment to keep up with those changes.

It’s a cost the county will have to cover alone. New York State isn’t offering reimbursements.

Tompkins isn’t the only county worried about these costs. Several others have criticized the reforms as another unfunded mandate.