Charlotte lawyer Jim Cooney made an interesting point in a Sunday N&O story about why it takes so long for murder cases in North Carolina to come to trial. Cooney said that North Carolina has fewer judges per capita than states its size.
Turns out it is much worse than that. The 2009 U.S. Census Statistical Abstract includes breakdowns of how much states spend per capita on each aspect of the criminal justice system. The numbers are a few years old but they are startling.
North Carolina ranked 26th among states and the District and Columbia in corrections spending in 2005, 37th in spending on overall law enforcement. There’s plenty in both of those numbers to talk about, but not when you consider how North Carolina funds its courts, or doesn’t fund them.
The state ranks 50th in per capita spending on the judicial system, barely ahead of South Carolina. And that’s before the budget cuts recently made and the ones promised for next year.