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County prosecutor’s office deserves some more help

Prosecutor’s offices typically are busy places, but the Marquette County office has been particularly active the past seven years.

County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese said the office had 427 authorized felony files in the county in 2012, with the number projected to rise to 681 this year.

Apparently, the office isn’t overcharging people. Instead, Wiese pointed to a huge increase in methamphetamine felony cases as the reason behind the spike. In fact, he expected his office to face over 200 meth felonies this year. Also, cases deal with cartel meth made in drug labs as opposed to individuals making their own.

Behind this fact is that people who can’t afford to buy meth typically commit larceny-level crimes to get the money to buy the drug, compounding society’s problems.

Wiese stressed that although there have been rises in sexual assault and domestic violence cases, he believes the increases are due to more reporting of sexual crimes as well as awareness of both this type of offense and domestic violence.

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, have steadily decreased since 2012, with Wiese pointing out some crimes, such as possession of marijuana, no longer are illegal.

With the increased caseload, Wiese said the office has to prioritize, with the most serious cases considered first.

However, a lot of work beyond just authorizing charges is involved; the office has to handle mental health hearings, child abuse and neglect cases, juvenile offenders and other duties.

A competent staff, though, can go only so far in handling more cases. Additional staff eventually is needed.

Wiese hopes to have the addition of a part-time assistant prosecutor approved by the Marquette County Board of Commissioners, leaving his office with six full-time attorneys.

He said he already has started getting the money for the position through local dollars and grants.

We believe this would be money well spent.

Ideally, people should get at the roof of the increased caseload, particularly focusing on the meth problem. However, in the meantime, something has to be done on the other end.

Swift justice is essential to any community, and if this means more staff in the prosecutor’s office, so be it.

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