Proposed budget could mean major cuts Lee Co. court system - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Proposed budget could mean major cuts Lee Co. court system

LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -

A possible 16 percent or $14.5 million cut to the Alabama state judiciary budget is sending a wave of panic through the Lee County court system.

"I can't imagine how we would operate," explains Lee County Juvenile Court Judge Mike Fellows.

The proposed budget would mean cutting the staff of the Lee County Juvenile Probation Office from seven officers down to one.

These officers are responsible for processing thousands of complaints and supervising the nearly 400 juveniles on probation.

"It would probably mean that there are will be people on the streets that are unsupervised that shouldn't be. There will be landlords that couldn't collect on their rent. I think it would mean a whole host of things wouldn't shut down we don't realize we rely on," explains Fellows.

The Lee County Circuit Clerk also says the proposed budget would force her to lay off 13 of 15 employees.

Officials say the courts may be forced to shut their doors to the public at least two days a week delaying civil matters

"We would have to priority primarily with criminal cases. So getting a court date for small claims matter, getting a domestic issue court date, those are the things that would make these residents suffer as result of the proposed budget," explains Lee County Circuit Clerk Mary Roberson.

Fees and fines collected by the Clerk's office also fund dozens of state agencies, programs and law enforcement activities that help ensure public safety.

"For us to be put in crisis mode, means the judicial system as a whole here in Lee County would also put into that kind of mode," explains Roberson.

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