Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully was in The Bee newsroom answering questions Wednesday from readers on www.sacbee.com
The entire session, part of The Bee's monthly series of chats with area law enforcement leaders, is available on www.sacbee.com/links
Here are some excerpts:
>Your office recently conducted what may be the final review of an officer-involved shooting. Can you tell the readers what led to the decision to halt such reviews? And is there a mechanism for law enforcement departments to use to conduct such reviews on their own that you would suggest?
Unfortunately, the county does not give me sufficient money to handle all the serious cases that come in to my office. Prosecuting crimes is the primary mission of the DA's Office and reviewing officer-involved shootings is not required by the law, although I feel it is important.
I have invited the law enforcement agencies to request my office to review officer-involved shooting cases where they are of particular concern to either the agency or the community. They have the ability to reach us 24/7 and make a request in those unusual cases.
>What do you think of this George Zimmerman second-degree murder charge and all that? Would you have handled that situation any differently if the case happened here in Sacramento?
This is a very tragic case and a young man lost his life. However, I do not know all of the information and evidence that has been made available to the prosecutor who has decided to file criminal charges in this case against Mr. Zimmerman. The fact that the special prosecutor did file charges tells me that she believes the evidence is sufficient to obtain a conviction.
>In today's budget environment what crimes will your office prioritize and why?
We always prioritize violent and serious felonies and crimes which pose a risk of injury to our residents. Even misdemeanors such as driving under the influence cases and domestic violence are important to be prosecuted. The reality of it is, we will prosecute as many crimes, whether they be felonies or misdemeanors, that we can. But the reality is, budget cuts have forced us to cut back.
>I know it must be very frustrating having to balance prosecutions with budget financing reductions. I'm interested in knowing what your opinions are regarding the eventual rise in crime rates that will result as a result of Gov. Brown's implementation of the policy to refrain from sending many convicted felons to state prison.
This new law is posing many challenges to our law enforcement community, and I believe crime will increase in our region and throughout the state. Like my colleagues across the state, I strongly believe in intervention and prevention programs and preparing people who to go to prison to try to successfully re-enter society.
However, realignment has taken away a lot of the consequences that have served to deter people from committing crimes, i.e. going to state prison. The other factor is whether or not the state will provide sufficient funding for counties to take on this additional responsibility. Our law enforcement professionals in the Sacramento region, including my office and probation, are working together to try to keep our communities safe while meeting the new requirements of realignment.