Since 1990, BJS has sponsored periodic national surveys or censuses of prosecutor offices through its National Survey of Prosecutors (NSP). This program collects data on the resources, policies, and practices of the prosecution component of state court systems. NSP gathers general administration information on annual office budgets, the tenure and salaries of chief state court prosecutors, and the number of full-time office staff—including attorneys, investigators, victim advocates, and support personnel—working in state prosecutor offices. It also asks prosecutor offices about threats against staff and if staff carry firearms, and requests detailed information on the number of felony cases closed, felony jury trial verdicts, and the use of DNA evidence.
BJS also conducts a Survey of State Attorneys General Offices. Recent data collected under this survey include the jurisdiction of attorneys general over criminal white-collar crime offenses and human trafficking.
In addition to felony criminal matters, prosecutors’ offices handled a variety of other case types. A greater number of prosecutors’ offices reported computer-based offenses and taking on homeland security responsibilities. In 2005, 60% of all state court prosecutors reported prosecuting crimes under the state’s computer crime statute, compared to 42% in 2001. About 80% of all offices reported handling credit card fraud, bankcard fraud (71%), identity theft (70%), and transmitting child pornography in 2005.
Full-time prosecutors’ offices were more likely to report prosecuting cases related to terrorism or participating in terrorism related investigations, compared to small full-time offices or part-time offices. In 2005, 2% of all prosecutor offices reported prosecuting cases related to terrorism; 7% actively participated in terrorism related investigations; and a third had members of the staff attend training on homeland security issues. Nearly a quarter of all offices participated in state or local task forces for homeland security.
Staffing and budget increases experienced by state court prosecutors' offices in the 1990s generally leveled off by 2001. Resources available to state court prosecutors' offices in 2005 were similar to those in 2001. In 2005 state court prosecutors' offices employed approximately 78,000 attorneys, investigators and support staff, had a median annual budget of $355,000, and closed about 250 or more felony cases.
In 2005, 24% of prosecutors’ offices reported problems recruiting new staff, and 35% had problems retaining staff attorneys. Thirty-seven percent of full-time medium offices and 27% of full-time large offices reported problems recruiting new staff attorneys, compared to 11% of part-time offices. Among offices identifying staff retention and recruitment problems, salary was the number one concern.