Budget provides more funding to criminal justice system

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Attorney General Josh Kaul stopped by the NewsChannel 7 station Thursday, saying he is excited to see more investment in a criminal justice system that's long been underfunded.

That is in reference to the approved state budget that is adding more assistant district attorneys throughout the state to reduce case backlog, and raising the rate for private attorneys taking public defense cases from to lowest rate in the country, $40 per hour, to $70 per hour.

"If a defendant can't get an attorney appointed, because nobody's willing to work for the rate that was being offered, that slows down the process for victims," Kaul said. "It means that their case can't go forward until the defendant gets an attorney, it creates delays in the system and potentially unnecessary hearings, and it's bad for defendants who are waiting there without having an attorney."

The State Crime Labs also gained more resources out of the budget, though not as much as Kaul said he had hoped. He explained that additional funding will help reduce the time it takes to analyze evidence, thus reducing delays in the investigation and court processes.