Declining revenues, including DWI fines, cited for $367,000 increase in funding of DA’s office

District Attorney Ricky Babin

District Attorney Ricky Babin appeared before the Parish Council’s Finance Committee on Tuesday seeking an increase in funding for his office.  Citing “greater costs and declining revenues” Babin asked for an additional $367,000 from the parish.  Without objection the committee approved the request that will raise the annual appropriation to $1.1 million.

The 23rd Judicial District includes Assumption and St. James parishes in addition to Ascension.  Babin’s office prosecutes criminal cases in all three though Ascension dwarfs the others.

According to the District Attorney annual felony prosecutions in Ascension average around 2,500 annually, which is over half of East Baton Rouge Parish’s total.  The latter’s budget is over $12 million while Babin has made due in Ascension with a $4.7 million budget, only $807,500 of which has come out of Ascension Parish’s governmental fund.

His office also prosecutes 20,000 misdemeanors a year, 500 juvenile cases, and an increasing number of probation/parole hearings due to recent penal reform in Louisiana.

“The law is moving in the direction that you can’t put people in jail for not paying fines,” Babin said.

Which results in fewer paying those fines.  Ride Sharing services are also decreasing the number of DWI arrests, a cash cow for prosecutors and court systems in every jurisdiction.

The Finance Committee recommendation must go before the Parish Council, which should pose no barrier since the bodies are comprised of identical memberships.