Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Published April 20, 2023
As Miami-Dade state attorney, I am committed to keeping
our community safe and protecting victims. My team and I work closely with
37 different police agencies and other partners to investigate and prosecute
local crimes. Together, we have reduced the crime rate almost 70% during my
tenure, but we still have work to do.
Our office is facing a staffing crisis that can undermine our ability to
protect the community if not immediately addressed. We are down more than
100 prosecutors and 250 staff, trending to a 30% vacancy rate and being
crushed by a backlog of COVID cases. The public defender’s office faces a
Our inability to hire and retain prosecutors and public defenders, and their
needed support staff, is contributing to case delays. Victims and their
families must deal with a constant rotation of lawyers on their cases and
are forced to repeatedly relive the trauma they endured, often giving up and
causing cases to be dropped.
Miami now is the most expensive housing market in the United States. Its
median apartment rent is around $3,000 a month. Prosecutors in Florida start
at $60,000, ranking 48th lowest in the nation. Support staffers start at
around $31,000. These salaries make it extremely difficult for us to attract
the number of qualified individuals we need to protect you and your
families, particularly since many of them must overcome often crippling
We do not expect to compete with private law firms who often start young
attorneys at $145,000; we simply are trying to secure salaries that allow
our attorneys and staff to survive and serve our community without leaving
for a more-affordable community.
To address the problem, I asked the Legislature to: provide an 8.3%
cost-of-living increase for all staff to help offset inflation; increase
prosecutor salaries by an additional $15,000; provide funding for a locality
pay differential for Miami-Dade County.