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A Special Message from
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle

Photo: Katherine Fernandez Rundle Headshot 2

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Miami-Dade State Attorney

Dear Friend,
Your State Attorney’s Office needs help – funding help. Prosecutor and support staff vacancies are at an all-time high and we cannot recruit or retain skilled prosecutors or the staff they rely on to assist our police officers, witnesses, and already traumatized victims. Each and every member of our community, of YOUR community, depends on us for their safety and well-being.
Our Assistant State Attorneys (ASA) are willing to forego the much higher salaries they can get in private practice and exemplify the true meaning of public service, but that should not mean having to take a vow of poverty. We cannot have an effective criminal justice system if we cannot recruit or retain ASAs and Assistant Public Defenders, especially when our caseloads have skyrocketed due to the pandemic. In the last year alone, my office lost more than 80 prosecutors.
Our turnover is so high that some of our lawyers handling even high-level cases like attempted murders and rapes have tried less than a handful of felony cases. If you or a family member were a victim of that type of serious case you would not want an inexperienced prosecutor handling your case.
Additionally, we have over 180 support staff vacancies and our remaining staff struggles to complete even the most critical tasks on time. Simply stated, starting salaries for all SAO team members need to be increased significantly.
Nearly every week there is yet another article about the shamefully low salaries of prosecutors around the country and the impact those salaries have on public safety and our Justice system. I suspect every one of us has seen at least one of those articles. Interestingly, they reference big cities where prosecutor salaries are much higher than ours even though their cost of living is significantly lower.
According to a 2021 survey by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), the average starting salary for a prosecutor nationally is $68,056. Miami prosecutors start at $50,000, the second lowest rate among a group of big city offices highlighted by the National Jurist in an article entitled, Starting assistant DA salaries seem criminally low.
In Miami, the lack of proper funding is compounded by our uniquely high cost-of-living. We are recognized as the 2nd most expensive housing market in the US, second only to New York, and the 19th least affordable housing market in the world. Yet our prosecutors start at $24.00 per hour.
Our young lawyers often are burdened with student loans surpassing $120k and with rents and mortgages they can barely afford. Our low salaries and high cost of living explain why the number of people applying for positions as Assistant State Attorneys has plummeted from 1,831 to 335 in the last 10 years.
The Federal government recognizes the high cost of living in South Florida and provides their employees a 23.51% locality pay salary additive for the Miami – Ft. Lauderdale area.
Our prosecutors and support staff deserve no less.
We ask that you support:
  • The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s (FPAA) request for $10,000 per full-time  prosecutor;
  • An additional $15,000 per prosecutor and $8,000 per staff member for Miami-Dade County; and
  • The FPAA’s request for compression resulting from the minimum wage increase for staff.
We recognize that increasing salaries is expensive, but the alternative is far more costly and far more dangerous to your community.
We recognize that increasing salaries is expensive, but the alternative is far more costly and far more dangerous to your community. Over the years, many of you have asked how you can help us protect you and your families.
Now is your chance. We urge you to reach out to your legislators today and ask them to provide us with the funds we need to protect our community.
Thank you and God Bless.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Miami-Dade State Attorney


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