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Prosecutors in State Courts, 2001

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2002 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C.- The nation's 2,341 local prosecutorial districts headed by full-time prosecutors has increased during the last decade from 53 percent to 77 percent of the total, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. As of last year, there were 532 part-time prosecutors in 29 states, with the most in Missouri (80 out of 115 districts). In Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota 50 percent or more of the chief prosecutors also served part time.

The average prosecutor's office closed 976 criminal cases during 2001, varying from an average of more than 48,000 in large offices, to 13,450 in medium-sized offices, to 1,100 in small offices and about 300 cases per year in those offices with a part-time prosecutor.

Despite overall increases in budgets, about one-third of all offices, particularly those serving a district with a population over 250,000, reported to BJS that they had problems recruiting and retaining enough staff attorneys, mostly due to low salaries.

Compared to 10 years ago, prosecutor's offices are now more likely to face technology-related issues as they deal with DNA evidence and computer-based crimes. In 2001, two-thirds of the nation's prosecutors' offices used DNA evidence during plea negotiations or felony trials compared to about a half in 1996.

Cybercrime has also attracted increased attention in many districts, BJS noted. Forty-two percent of all offices brought felony or misdemeanor charges of computer-related crimes. In terms of specific computer-related crimes, 30 percent of all offices prosecuted offenses dealing with the transmission of child pornography, 27 percent credit card offenses and 22 percent bank card fraud. Computer sabotage was prosecuted by 5 percent of offices and theft of intellectual property by 3 percent of offices.

Most prosecutors' offices serve small jurisdictions, about 1.5 percent of the offices nationwide are in jurisdictions of 1 million residents or more, and about 8 percent serve jurisdictions from a quarter million to a million residents. About two-thirds of the offices are in jurisdictions of less than 250,000 and the remainder, about 23 percent, are part-time offices reflecting the low volume of cases typically handled.

During 2001, the large offices had median budgets of about $32 million while medium size-jurisdictions had a median budget of $6 million. Small offices and those with part-time prosecutors had median budgets of $379,000 and $95,000 respectively. Most offices operate using both state and county funding, only about a third of offices rely exclusively on county funding.

As of last year, all chief prosecutors were elected officials except in Alaska, Connecticut, the District of Columbia and New Jersey.

The bulletin, "Prosecutors in State Courts, 2001, National Survey of Prosecutors" (NCJ-193441), was written by BJS statistician Carol J. DeFrances. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277. After the release date, this document can be accessed at:


Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
E-mail: [email protected]

Date Published: May 19, 2002