Jeffco courts prepare for cuts

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County's presiding judge is meeting with his colleagues to discuss the deep cuts expected for the court system.

Judge Scott Vowell says those in the courts are hoping for the best but preparing for what would be big changes if the cuts go through. According to Vowell, the cuts will mean 35 jobs lost in Jefferson County's court system.

The employees most in jeopardy of being laid off are the county's 27 bailiffs. Vowell says Jeffco has hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep 11 of those 27 for the rest of this year if cuts are made.

Adjustments will be required if the cuts go through; Vowell foresees changes in the number of jury weeks, the number of cases a judge set in a week and bailiff sharing.
On Tuesday morning as a guest on Good Day Alabama, Judge Vowell said these cuts are really nothing new for the state and the people living here are the ones who suffer.

"We just seem to live in Alabama from crisis to crisis," said Vowell. "We go until we run out of money and then we run around and see what we can do to save whatever the project is that needs to be saved.  We need for the politicians to take an overall view at our entire tax structure so that the courts and other essential functions of government can work for the people."

Vowell says programs that rehabilitate criminals rather than send them to jail could also be in jeopardy. He says it is more economical to handle these cases in beginning rather than see them over and over again in the criminal system.

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