District Attorney’s office accused of wasting paper, taxpayer money
On April 12, Dean Johansson, an attorney at the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office and a district attorney candidate for this election cycle, released a press statement regarding paper waste in the current district attorney’s office.
In the release, Johansson accused the current district attorney, Jeff Reisig, and his office of hypocrisy. Johansson asserted that, although the current district attorney’s office has claimed to have gone “paperless” as part of a commitment to ecological responsibility, Reisig’s office still profits off of printing, shipping and shredding reams of paper. Johansson went on to describe that, while millions of pages of data are transferred from law enforcement, government and medical agencies to the district attorney’s office online, the DA still prints these out in full and ships boxes of these documents to the public defender’s office, where they are scanned, shredded and disposed of, rather than sent digitally.
“I’m sick and tired of a system that is broken and doesn’t make sense and wastes so much unnecessarily,” Johansson said. “When you think about the cost, the hours taken by accounting, the labor, that is all unnecessary. They print out all this paper, put it in a box in front of their office. One of our secretaries goes over daily to pick up the discovery from that box, carries it over here, they scan it back into binary form and put it in our computer system and then take that paper. We’re talking reams. They shred those papers, and they’re picked up weekly by a shredding company.”
The district attorney’s office charges the public defender’s office 25 cents per sheet of paper, which Johansson claims has added up to over $97,000 in the last year alone. And this cost does not include all of the labor that is paid out to the shipping services and secretaries who scan the boxes of paper.
According to the district attorney office’s website, “In 2010, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced an ambitious plan to transform the District Attorney’s Office to a paperless environment within a year’s time […] the District Attorney’s office successfully launched paperless prosecution of all new misdemeanor criminal cases in April of 2011 and completed the conversion of adult criminal cases to paperless by including all new felony criminal case filings in August of 2011.”
The Aggie reached out to the Yolo District Attorney’s office for comment regarding the paper shredding but received no response. The Aggie did get in touch with Californians Against Waste, an environmental advocacy organization based in Sacramento.
“It is wasteful for the environment and for taxpayers when any agency fails to provide the public and others with paperless pathways to public information,” said Mark Murray, the executive director of Californians Against Waste. “In this instance, it would appear that the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is violating their own policy and purposefully jerking around the public defender’s office.”
Johansson claimed that this paper waste issue is symptomatic of a larger problem regarding overcharging and waste in the Yolo County law enforcement and judicial system. Nearly three quarters of detainees and inmates in Yolo jails are awaiting trial because of bail amounts that are set too high, costing taxpayers $150 per day. And 41 percent of the current DA’s felony charges are acquitted or dismissed by a judge — more than twice the state average.
“Nearly $100,000 is wasted on paper between these two offices alone,” Johansson said. “With our high incarceration rates and acquittal rates, you can imagine how much more we are losing.”
Written by: Ahash Francis — email@example.com