MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - There's a new face in the courtroom in Montgomery County, helping prosecute some of the area's most high profile crimes.
The District Attorney's Office has expanded its Violent Crime Unit in order to help with the growing caseload. Justin Jones is now part of the elite unit, which prosecutes major crimes, like capital murders, murders, and serial robberies and assaults.
Jones came from the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney's Office where he handled hundreds of cases, including Capital Murder, Murder, Child Sexual Abuse, Trafficking in Illegal Drugs, and Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance.
"I'm really happy to be here. I think the unit has been going great and I'm just hoping to get in and help and move everything along smoothly as best I can," Jones said. "I've been practicing in Tuscaloosa for a while and the fact that Daryl trusts me to come in and handle a lot of these cases means a lot to me."
He started Monday after being sworn in by Judge Truman Hobbs Jr.
District Attorney Daryl Bailey turned to the Montgomery County Commission for help with funding for the extra position.
"It's very important for us to build our Violent Crime team because of the number of homicides that we've had in Montgomery over the past few years. They've really stacked up on us," Bailey said. "We went to the county commission and asked them. Since the state of Alabama is obviously going to refuse to fund law enforcement we reached out to the county commission."
At last count, Bailey said there are more than 120 homicides waiting to go to trial in Montgomery County.
"We asked the commission and they gave us the extra position because they knew the problem we have with violent crime in Montgomery and they wanted to do what they can to address that problem," he added. "We have more homicides coming into our office than we're able to try. There's just not enough people. So we're thankful to the county commission that we are getting those resources to be able to try these cases."
Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said county leaders wanted to make sure the district attorney has the resources needed to fight crime in Montgomery.
The DA's Office has seen its budget cut by $1 million since 2008.
"He does not have all the prosecutors that he really needs. He has been doing this job with all the state cuts. He has to manage his staff to do all of this and he has so many cases backing up," Dean said. "We wouldn't be good managers of the county and constituent's money if we didn't do things like this. We don't ever hear anybody complain about the county giving the DA money to fight crime because it's needed each and every day."
Bailey feels the expanded unit will help make the wheels of the criminal justice system turn faster for victims and their families.
His office will continue efforts to keep kids out of trouble and out of the criminal justice system and strengthen the pretrial diversion program to give nonviolent offenders a second opportunity.
"But if you commit a violent crime in Montgomery, I want you off the streets forever. Hopefully, with the addition of this violent crime team member paired with the great experience on the violent crime team, we're going to be able to do that and do it effectively in Montgomery County," he stated.