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When should prisoners be released?

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Georgians are asking questions about convicted offenders being released from prison on parole or probation, after the deaths of two Georgia law enforcement officers in December, including Dougherty County Police Lt. Cliff Rouse.

Both the men arrested for the officers' murders had been convicted of crimes, but were not in prison or jail.

The deaths of Dougherty County Police Lt. Cliff Rouse and Georgia State Patrol Trooper Chadwick LeCroy have a number of Georgians questioning if persons convicted of felonies are a danger, and if they are being released too soon.

Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette would not go on camera with us today, because he is concerned that if he talked about this subject in any shape he might have to recuse himself from the Rouse murder case, which he is likely to preside over. But he said Judges don't have a crystal ball, and can't look into the future to see exactly which offender may someday commit a violent crime again.

Greg Edwards\Dougherty D.A.]

Dougherty County Police Lt. Cliff Rouse was shot twice December 23rd while investigating a convenience store robbery. The man charged with his murder, 20-year-old Dontavious Thomas, was on probation for burglarizing that same store.

December 27th Georgia State Trooper Chadwick LeCroy was shot while making a traffic stop. The suspect, 30-year-old Gregory Favors, had been arrested 19 times and convicted 10 times in the last 11 years.

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards says Judges have a tough job, deciding who can be released.  "There has to be some consideration. That we can't house every offender forever to the maximum of any potential sentence," Edwards said.

 

With prison overcrowding and state budget woes, every Georgian convicted of a crime can not put behind bars. 13:26:30 Edwards said "Even those folks that have been convicted of violent crimes, unless they have a life without parole sentence, they may at some point return to society. And it may be even a life sentence, they may be returned to society." And court officials say no matter how diligent, they can not know which offender will go back to crime. 13:26:45 Edwards said "You can not predict sometimes violent behavior in any person, but what we try to do is make sure the folks who have already proven to be violent, that they do get time." But Georgians having to bury their friends and loved ones, have tough questions why convicted offenders are back on the streets.> Judge Lockette said there are many more times Georgians convicted of crimes, out on the streets on parole or probation, than in prison...and the state can't afford to lock up all of them. [Anchor:DAWN] {***DAWN***} D.A. Greg Edwards said the investigation into Lt. Rouse's murder is still ongoing.....and after it is completed then he will decide if he will seek the death penalty in the case.