Detroit: No Street Lights, No Justice, No Money

imagesCARU8OBHDetroit Mayor Dave Bing announced this week a new crime prevention initiative for the city called Detroit One. The program would coordinate local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including ATF officers, to develop regular patrols of the streets. This comes just a day after Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr vowed to make public safety his top priority, mentioning bringing street lights back to the city. Democracy Tree reported earlier this month about the increased crime in the Motor City due to lack of public lighting from budget cuts. Detroit is currently the second most dangerous city in the nation, runner-up only to Flint.

It doesn’t take a financial wizard to know that public safety cannot improve without funding, and Detroit has been systematically starved of promised revenue sharing under both the Snyder and Granholm administrations. Mike Alberti, of Remapping Debate, puts it this way:

“Detroit needs much more than better management. It needs large-scale, purposeful investment. It needs new channels of communication between officials in the city, the suburbs, and the state house. Most of all, it needs a vision of the city that does not begin with the assumption that its residents must be forced to endure poor schools, dangerous neighborhoods, and a lack of basic services indefinitely.”

And the problem just got a whole lot worse in Wayne County. Associated Press reports that their Prosecutor’s office, facing a $160 million dollar deficit, just laid-off 22 attorneys and 3 investigators. They have a backlog of 40 homicides, 130 child abuse cases and 66 sexual assaults. Paula Bridges, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office said: “If it takes longer to get a case to court, that person will have to spend more days behind bars…This means we are going to be paying more to house these individuals”. It costs the county $140 per day for each prisoner.

Prosecutors are simply not showing-up in court for many misdemeanors. The staff shortage has left them unable to cover traffic court, with most cases being dismissed or adjourned. Wayne County is currently unable to cover its Personal Protection Order docket in Circuit Court and the misdemeanors docket in District Court. As of June of 2012, there were nearly $279 million in uncollected fees, fines and court costs.

As with all fiscal crises, the sequestration is simply piling-on. Bert Brandeburg, executive director of the court watchdog group, Justice at Stake, was quoted in Gavel Grab saying: 

“[T]hese cuts threaten to erode several core constitutional values, including the right to a jury trial and due process”.

A grim outlook indeed, but turning the lights back on in Detroit would be a good start.

Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project

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1 Response to Detroit: No Street Lights, No Justice, No Money

  1. anton chigurh says:

    According to Mr. Alberti “Detroit needs much more than better management. It needs large-scale, purposeful investment”. Can’t disagree but before anyone could or should consider “large-scale, purposeful investment”(more tax dollars) in Detroit they had to get rid of Kwame K and his criminal enterprise that ran Detroit into the ground during his 7 year tenure. Is there much doubt that if he had not been convicted of a felony the voters in Detroit would have elected him until that time he chose to run for the US Senate replacing Levin. And who knows where he might have gone from there?
    The only solution for Detroit is an EFM as the voters in Detroit have demonstrated time and time again that they are incapable of electing capable leaders.
    Another good example is Bell Calif. A city of 36,000 but only 400 souls showed up to vote in 2005 to elect the crooks that robbed them blind.
    Democracy unfortunately may have its limits.
    Bad example . . but they don’t allow the inmates to elect the warren for good reason.
    Probably the first comment to disagree with your political position. Things get pretty boring without dissent.

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