Officials show support for bill to fund prosecuting violent crime

The bill would pay for seven attorneys and two paralegals who would be assigned to help counties deal with difficult criminal cases.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Hearings were held Tuesday in both the Minnesota House and the Senate on a bill that would give the Attorney General’s Office more money to hire more attorneys to prosecute violent criminals.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has more than 150 attorneys on staff, but AG Keith Ellison says most of those attorneys work on civil cases.

When Ellison took over as Attorney General, he says the office had only one full-time attorney assigned to handle criminal cases.

Ellison says his office now has three full-time attorneys working criminal cases and he’s hoping this new bill will give him the funding to add seven more.

If passed into law, the new bill would give the Attorney General’s Office $4 million over the next two years to hire seven attorneys and two paralegals to prosecute serious crimes.

“When counties need our assistance, they call us, and if we have resources available, we step up and handle those cases with them or for them,” Ellison said during Tuesday morning’s house committee meeting.

Ellison says these calls usually come in from rural counties that don’t have enough staff or the expertise to handle a case.

“In the four years that I’ve been at the Attorney General’s Office, it’s been overwhelmingly homicide cases. We’ve had some criminal sexual conduct cases,” Ellison explained.

A handful of county attorneys and the Minnesota County Attorney Association support the bill.

In one of their letters, they said, “24 of the state’s county attorney offices have two or fewer attorneys and there are fourteen counties with just three attorneys.”

“This bill is firmly about public safety and getting the bad guy, and

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