Study: Harris County D.A's Office is short handed

A new study shows that Harris County District Attorney's Office is understaffed and underfunded.

That new research from Texas Southern University says prosecutors in the DA's office have higher caseloads than in other U.S. Counties. Dr. Howard Henderson tells KTRH this has an impact on how prosecutors handle their work.

"Researchers argue that overworked, understaffed prosecutors are more likely to plea bargain. They are less likely to adequately be able to process cases," Henderson explained. "You see direct impact on the community. We understand that not being able to go to trial has a negative impact on a lot of members of the community."

The research also found:

-Following the 10,000 to 1 population-to-prosecutor ratio standard, Harris County has the greatest prosecutor deficit: 104.

-Harris County, Texas has only 45% of the total number of prosecutors of Cook County, Illinois, and 89% of Maricopa County, Arizona.

-Harris County prosecutors have one of the highest felony caseloads, yet they have fewer misdemeanor cases than similarly situated prosecutor offices.

-Despite being the third largest U.S. county, Harris County’s 703 full-time employees make it the smallest staffed office of the largest seven counties.

-Harris County’s prosecutor office received $19.12 per capita funding. This rate is significantly lower than other comparable counties.

KTRH reached out to the Harris County District Attorney's office. In a statement, they said, "We welcome TSU’s study of our caseloads. It is undeniable that we need more prosecutors, investigators and other staff for a justice system that is fair to crime victims, the accused and the community. Public safety and public trust depends on it."

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