Genesee Justice staff offers to take pay cut; advisory council narrows cost savings on closure
Submitted by Howard Owens on November 30, 2010 - 3:23pm
After some number crunching yesterday, members of the Criminal Justice Advisory Council concluded that eliminating Genesee Justice will save the county less than $100,000.
Most of Genesee Justice's budget is covered by state and federal grants, but in recent years the county's portion of the operations expense has climbed to $237,000.
To help come up with expense savings to protect Genesee Justice, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman -- who's a member of CJAC -- $80,000 in possible cuts have been identified by the Sheriff's Office and Genesee Justice.
That includes a voluntary 6-percent pay cut from the Genesee Justice staff.
"We thought we made a good case (for Genesee Justice at the budget hearing)," Friedman said. "We'd still like to believe (its elimination) is not going to happen."
Thirty years ago, the concepts that built Genesee Justice -- restorative justice and offender accountability -- were novel and not universally embraced by the law enforcement and thenlegal community. Now local criminal justice experts are solidly behind saving Genesee Justice.
"As we've said, this would be like a 30-year step back in history," Friedman said.
He said CJAC members are waiting for the release, sometime today or tomorrow, of County Manager Jay Gsell's revised budget proposal to see just what the cost differential will be.
The costs of moving Genesee Justice functions to probation go beyond just adding three more staff members to the Probation Department, though solid numbers are not immediately available.
Also, it's completely unclear, Friedman said, whether the grants now used to help fund Genesee Justice will follow the programs to probation.
"There were a lot of people at the meeting (Monday)," Friedman said. "Everybody reiterated what they said at the hearing -- that this is a bad idea."
The Legislature will be in conference on the proposed budget at the Old Courthouse at 4 p.m. Wednesday.