D.A. wants electronic monitors on juvenile offenders - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

D.A. wants electronic monitors on juvenile offenders

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The D-A says he needs your help to stop gangs from using young people as burglars.

District Attorney Greg Edwards says adult gang members use juveniles for break ins,  knowing the teens will get little punishment if caught. He wants to put electronic monitors on those teens, so they become useless to these gangs.

Landmark Auto Sales had so much trouble with break ins and thefts, they put up an expensive electric fence around their property.

General Manager Michael Paul said "Probably over 100 thousand dollars worth of damage. Stolen merchandise, things of that nature."

District Attorney Greg Edwards said Youth Detention Centers can't hold most juvenile offenders for more than 30 days because of state cutbacks. Often juveniles caught doing these burglaries are back on the streets quickly committing the same crimes again.

Edwards said "the whole idea is to break up this cycle of burglaries involving juveniles and older adults."

Edwards is working with Juvenile Judges to start an electronic monitoring program for these young offenders, using new technology to make them go to school and stay home at night.

Edwards said "Number one we can keep track of where they are. We can alarm an audible siren on the monitor if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time."

It is cheaper to put a monitor on a juvenile offender than to lock them up behind bars, but it still cost about $11 dollars for the monitor. So the D.A. says one big part of the crime fighting monitor program is getting the money to pay for it.

Edwards said "By grants, by private enterprise. Whatever means we can to finance."

Crime not only costs the victims, but it hurts the economic development of Albany, so the D.A. is hopeful that the community will be willing to contribute to the monitors, to break what he calls the gang cycle that is plaguing Albany.

Paul says it sounds good to him.  "I don't think there is a dealer in this area that wouldn't be willing to help out or go along with something like that, if it's going to help cut down on loss," said Paul.

The electronic monitors record exactly where the person wearing it is at all times, so the D.A. believes it would stop their cycle of repeated crimes.

One big legal concern is how long a Judge can order a juvenile to wear an electronic monitor. For a designated felon it could be up to five years.

The District Attorney hopes to have the electronic monitoring program up and running soon,  but he says the community backing will be important to its success.

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