V.I. Attorney General Denise George: Senate Drastically Slashes Governor’s FY22 Department of Justice Personnel Budget Request

(U.S. Virgin Islands)- Attorney General Denise George expressed serious concerns about Bill No. 34-0109, recently passed by the Legislature which drastically slashes Governor Bryan’s personnel funding request for the Department of Justice.

She stated, “The Bill slashes 85 percent of the proposed personnel funding increase to hire the staff needed to address the myriad of increasing criminal activity that severely threatens the safety and wellbeing of every person in our community and to resolve severe staff shortages that have plagued the Department of Justice for years. Instead, the Bill redirects the funding away from DOJ to other unrelated categories.

Much to the detriment of us all, my pleas to the Senate for more financial resources to hire additional attorneys, prosecutors, investigators, agents, and support staff to respond to the huge criminal case backlog and epidemic of homicides, gun violence, sexual assault; child sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, and white-collar crimes, seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Furthermore, despite much political grandstanding from certain members of the legislature who constantly “call” for the Attorney General to initiate investigations into a myriad of perceived wrongdoing and corruption, the requested funding was refused.

This will surely stall the DOJ’s active recruitment and hiring efforts. The DOJ, under the direction of the Attorney General, is mandated by law to prosecute all crimes and offenses against the laws of the Virgin Islands, to investigate and prosecute white collar crime and corruption, to enforce the local sex offender registry, to investigate cause and manner of death, to provide witness protection when needed, all on behalf of the People of the Virgin Islands.

There can be no confusion. The only way for the Senate to support these services to our people is to adequately fund the DOJ. To do otherwise, while fabricating excuses for not granting the available funding to those of us who are pledged to fight crime, is a disservice to the people of this territory. In exercising my duty and oath as Attorney General to uphold and defend the constitution and laws of the Virgin Islands and the United States, I recently challenged in court the constitutionality and legality of certain measures recently passed by the senate for running afoul of the United States Constitution and our Revised Organic Act, much to the dismay of some senators.

Unfortunately, however, the people of the Virgin Islands become the only losers of a defund approach against the DOJ. The winners would be the criminal element who chose to commit crimes against the laws of the Virgin Islands including -homicides, gun violence, child sexual exploitation, domestic violence, white collar crime and corruption, carjacking, elderly abuse, criminal child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, theft, and domestic violence to name a few, which pose a real threat to our community and depletes our resources.

The politics and powerplays must stop for the sake of the people in our community. A fully funded, strong, and robust Department of Justice defending the legal interests of the people and prosecuting all offenses in the name of the People of the Virgin Islands is not a luxury, but a necessity. The People of the Virgin Islands deserve no less than that.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2021
Sandra Goomansingh
Media Relations Director
(340)774-5666 ext. 10105
Email: Sandra.goomansingh@doj.vi.gov

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