DA wants harsh penalties for violent offenders - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DA wants harsh penalties for violent offenders

May 14, 2007

Albany-  Four murders since March 14th is strengthening the Dougherty County District Attorney's office case for harsher penalties for violent offenders. 

The Dougherty District Attorney's office was already laying the groundwork to prosecute violent gun offender or violent gang offenders inside the federal system with the help of federal prosecutors. Federal punishments would be more strict and could send an offender to another state to serve out their sentence.

It's places like the Albany Mall, sporting events, the movie theater, summer fairs that the District Attorney's office wants the highest priority for safety.  That's why plan to go after strict punishments for Dougherty County's violent offenders.

Thursday's shooting at the Albany Mall is just the latest example. Three murders, two involving guns in Albany in the last three weeks is concerning.

"One would think that's we're having a bad run. I hope this trend doesn't continue but it quite obviously is a problem at this point," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards.

The solution? Prevention. The District Attorney's office hopes a new partnership with federal authorities will make criminals think twice before pulling a gun.

"We're working in conjunction with federal authorities, we're going to try an implement programs that will in affect enhance the punishment for gun offender," said Edwards.

Like the recent gang crack down between Dougherty County and Federal Authorities the two groups would team up to prosecute those violent offenders. Right now the ground work is being laid.

"We'll try to kick it in with the right cases," said Edwards.

What would be a right case?

"A case involving a violent gun offender or violent gang offender." said Edwards. 

If that violent offender is convicted it could effectively exile the person from Dougherty County and even out of the state to serve their sentence.

"A person who might commit a crime here in Albany could be sent to Montana or New Hampshire or somewhere far away from number one the person he or she might have been associated with," said Edwards.

Potentially some of the cases currently in the Dougherty County system could qualify to be prosecuted in federal court. Edwards also said the Albany Mall case was not a random act of violence and the evidence continues to strengthen that the men involved in the shooting had a past argument. 

The District Attorney's office will meet with federal prosecutors to see if this case or others meets the appropriate criteria to be moved to federal court.

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