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Prosecutors in State Courts, 1992

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1993                  202-307-0784
     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Most state prosecutors have
relatively small staffs to handle large criminal caseloads,
the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) said today.  According
to a 1992 survey, half of the nation's state prosecutors had
fewer than eight staff members, including three prosecuting
attorneys, and closed about 200 or more felony cases--87
percent with convictions.   About three-quarters of the
prosecutors served jurisdictions of less than 65,000
     An estimated 70 percent of state prosecutors, frequently
called district attorneys or county attorneys, served in full-
time positions.  About half the chief prosecutors had served
five years or more.
     "The prosecutors tell us they are involving victims in
the criminal justice process," noted Acting BJS Director
Lawrence A. Greenfeld.   "Almost all of the prosecutors'
offices report that they notify victims of the dispositions of
felony cases in which they were involved.  About two-thirds
said they used victim information during pretrial release
determinations and almost all used victim information during
felony sentencing.  This is a substantial increase in victim
involvement compared to prosecutor survey information gathered
about 20 years ago."
     The data are from BJS's second national prosecutor
survey, which includes information about activities from July
1, 1991, through June 30, 1992.  The sample represents the
almost 2,400 chief prosecutors in state felony courts across
the United States.
     "These men and women who represent us in the courts work
at personal risk," Greenfeld commented.  In more than one-
quarter of the prosecutors' offices, a staff member--usually
the chief prosecutor--experienced a work-related assault.
     About a third of the prosecutors' offices surveyed had
security measures for staff protection.  In almost 50 percent
of the prosecutors' offices in the nation's 75 largest
counties, at least one assistant prosecuting attorney carried
a firearm for protection.
      The prosecutors frequently reported that their states
had recently enacted statutes that defined new categories of
offenses, such as child abuse, stalking and hate crimes.
About one-half of the prosecutors said their offices had
handled such cases.
     Almost all the offices used criminal history records in
prosecuting felony cases.  The most frequent problems with
criminal history records cited by the offices, were
incompleteness (62 percent), accuracy (41 percent) and
timeliness (36 percent).   However, recent improvements in
criminal recordkeeping were reported by 16 percent of the
offices--greater accuracy by 14 percent and improved
timeliness by 22 percent.
     Total employment in prosecutors' offices nationwide,
including attorneys, investigators and support staff, was
approximately 57,000.  There were more than 21,000 staff
attorneys with some prosecutorial responsibility.
     Seventy percent of the prosecuting attorneys, including
the chief prosecutors, were male, 88 percent were white non-
Hispanics, 4 percent were black non-Hispanics and 5 percent
were Hispanics of any race.
     Many prosecutors reported using new kinds of evidence in
felony trials such as DNA data (25 percent of offices) and
videotape (53 percent).
     Sixty-four percent of the offices said their district
maintained a public defender to provide counsel for an
indigent defendant.  Other provisions for indigent defense
used in fewer districts included assigned private counsel and
contracts with local law firms or bar association.
      Single copies of the BJS bulletin, "Prosecutors in State
Courts, 1992," (NCJ-145319) as well as other BJS statistical
reports may be obtained from the BJS Clearinghouse at the
National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000,
Rockville, Maryland 20850.  The telephone number is 1-800-732-
     Survey data are available on a computer diskette by
calling the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data on 1-
# # #
After hours contact: Stu Smith 301-983-9354
Date Published: December 23, 1994