- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Justice Department is looking to add 300 prosecutors to its ranks in its fiscal 2018 budget, 230 of whom will focus prosecuting violent crime and be detailed to areas of the country most in need of extra resources. The other 70 prosecutors will focus on immigration-related offenses.

The $26 million request is part of the Justice Department’s overall $27.7 billion budget proposal, which is meant to bolster Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ priorities including: crackdowns on violent crime, criminal gangs and illegal immigration.

“As the attorney general said, all of us who work in law enforcement want to keep people safe, plain and simple. This is the heart of our jobs,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, providing a brief overview of the budget request. “This budget accomplishes that goal through targeted initiatives.”

Highlighting the 300 additional prosecutors requested, Mr. Rosenstein said the budget “redirects resources from headquarters activities to prosecutors and agents in the field.” They would join the approximately 11,000 people employed by the U.S. Attorney’s offices.

DOJ officials said the department has not yet identified where it would sent the additional assistant U.S. attorneys, but noted they would not be isolated in districts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They truly are meant to be distributed across the county in there areas that evidence the greatest need for prosecutors,” said Lee Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration. “It’s going to be a mix of cities across the country and border locations as well.”

The Justice Department’s $27.7 billion budget request is a 3 percent decrease from the prior year.

While the department adds new staff in some areas, the plan indicates that much of the savings will be achieved through cuts to construction costs as well as to grant programs.

The budget adds a total of 1,500 new positions meant to focus on priorities while eliminating 9,400 vacant and unfunded positions. No jobs are expected to be cut, but other positions are expected to be left open when employees depart, allowing for additional efficiencies, Mr. Lofthus said.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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